AN OXFORD teacher has warned that ageing school staff are at risk of 'dying in their classrooms' if their health needs are neglected.

Addressing the annual conference of the NASUWT teaching union at the weekend, heart attack survivor Neil Jeffrey unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a 10-week old scar from a triple heart bypass. 

The Oxford Academy teacher said he had received 'fabulous support' and praised the union for helping him through his recovery, but predicted grave consequences for those without that help. 

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Mr Jeffrey, 49, told the conference in Belfast: "The longer teachers have to work, the greater the chance there is of them ending up with unwanted body art like this.

"We need to make sure we urge the union to monitor the incidence of serious illness amongst our colleagues, so that every single teacher who had a health event or incident, for want of a better word, gets the fabulous support they need, just as I did.

"If not, we run a serious risk not just of people working longer and retiring later, but of people retiring later and dying in their classrooms."

Mr Jeffrey had been head of modern languages at the Littlemore secondary school before his heart attack, which happened on June 4 last year.

He has since been off sick and is due to return to work next month, but said he would step down from the role and revert to being a classroom teacher.

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His warning came as an age discrimination motion was debated at the annual conference. 

Mr Jeffrey supported an amendment calling on the national executive 'to investigate the incidence of serious ill-health amongst teachers who are working longer, and to provide support to individuals affected.'

The conference passed a motion condemning age discrimination and calling for the retirement age for teachers to be lowered.

It also called for the union to continue to campaign for recognition of the valuable contributions that experienced teachers make.