Teachers 'failed' by Scottish government, Labour claims

Nicola Sturgeon accuses Labour leader of 'empty rhetoric' and highlights University of Stirling analysis of attainment
14th November 2019, 2:57pm


Teachers 'failed' by Scottish government, Labour claims

Teachers Have Been 'failed' By The Scottish Government, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard claims At First Minister's Questions This Afternoon

Teachers  have been "failed" by the Scottish government, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard  claimed at First Minister's Questions this afternoon.

Mr Leonard highlighted research by the charity Education Support, which found that more than half of teachers in Scotland had considered leaving the profession due to mounting stress and rising workloads.

The Education Support research suggests that 36 per cent of teaching staff in Scotland had experienced mental health issues in the previous year, while 57 per cent had considered leaving the education sector in the past two years as a result of pressures on their health and wellbeing.

Research cited by Labour leader: Sharp rises in tearfulness, insomnia and irritability in UK teachers

Last week's FMQs: First minister grilled over pupils' subject choices

Attainment analysis: What does data really say about Scotland's curriculum?

The report says, too, that Scotland's education staff rated joint ninth out of 12 UK areas on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale; education staff in Wales had the highest mental wellbeing score.

As well as the Education Support report, Mr Leonard highlighted a Unison survey suggesting that 90 per cent of social workers were considering leaving their job, and pressed the Scottish government for more investment in public services.

He said: "Isn't it clear that these working people, and the people who depend on the critical services that they provide, are being let down because of decisions that this government has taken?

"Scotland's public services desperately need investment, which you, first minister, have failed to deliver."

Wellbeing: Teachers' health 'is being harmed'

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government was investing in public services and accused the Labour leader of using "empty rhetoric".

On the Education Support study, Mr Leonard said: "The health of our teachers is being harmed, but our children's education and life chances are being harmed, too. What does the Scottish government intend to do to change this?"

Ms Sturgeon said: "Investment in education is rising in Scotland - and rightly so - we've also given teachers the best pay deal of any of the UK countries.

"As part of that pay deal, we've also taken steps and additional measures that are aimed at addressing issues relating to workload, wellbeing and teacher empowerment.

"We're taking the action designed to make sure our teachers have the support they need to deliver for our pupils."

The first minister also said that attainment was rising in Scotland, citing analysis from University of Stirling researchers. It was critical of separate research that painted a more negative picture and received considerable attention last week.

Last Thursday it was the Scottish Conservatives who used their slot at First Minister's Questions to attack Ms Sturgeon on the government's education record.

The first minister insisted that secondary pupils' subject choices had not narrowed, despite her opponents highlighting evidence that appeared to show the contrary.

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters