75% of teachers 'often stressed by workload'

The vast majority of school staff in Scotland would not recommend becoming a teacher as a career, a poll shows

Emma Seith

School Business Manager, SBM, SBM workload

More than 75 per cent of Scottish teachers frequently feel stressed because of their workload, a survey shows.

In the EIS teaching union's survey, 60 per cent of teachers said that during the course of a typical week their workload left them feeling stressed regularly, while a further 16.5 per cent said they were stressed "all the time".

A total of 12,000 teachers were questioned as part of the EIS' Value Education, Value Teachers campaign for improved pay, which the union said had unearthed some "shocking" results.

The poll also found that 70 per cent of respondents would not recommend teaching as a career – compared with 60 per cent in a similar survey by the union last June.

The survey follows a freedom of information request that laid bare the consequences of the teacher shortage for some schools. It showed that one secondary post, for a technical education teacher at Ellon Academy in Aberdeenshire, had been advertised 14 times, with only four applications received throughout the process.

Ken Muir, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, has appealed to teachers in the past to “talk up teaching” and it was recently revealed by Tes Scotland that the government spent over £500,000 marketing teaching as a career.

However, teachers on Twitter responded by saying that selling teaching as a career would not work unless pay and workload were addressed.


'Soaring workload and declining pay'

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Our aim was to gather information on the issues affecting teachers, to provide a firm evidence base to support our ongoing campaigning.

"Discontent over levels of pay featured strongly, as did concerns over excessive workload demands and their impact on health and wellbeing.

"The fact that more than 75 per cent of teachers frequently feel stressed at work is worrying news – for teachers, for pupils and for Scottish education."

The EIS argues that Scotland has a recruitment crisis because of a "toxic combination of soaring workload and declining pay".

Mr Flanagan added: "While our Value Education, Value Teachers campaign is primarily about reversing the decade-long sharp real-terms decline in teachers' pay, the campaign has also become a lightning rod for other issues of significant concern.

"Excessive workload and high levels of stress are clearly also contributing to the high levels of dissatisfaction felt by many teachers.

"It is this toxic combination of soaring workload and declining pay that has created the current recruitment and retention crisis facing Scottish education. Both of these issues must be addressed to ensure that Scotland's education system can continue to meet the needs of learners in the future."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We have undertaken a range of actions to reduce teacher workload, acting to clarify and simplify the curriculum framework and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy while the education reforms being implemented by this government will also create new opportunities for teachers to develop their careers."

She added: "The Scottish government and local authorities have made an improved pay offer which, including increases as a result of restructuring the pay scale, would see teachers receiving a minimum 8 per cent increase between January 2018 and April, with a further 3 per cent in the third year of the proposed deal.

"This is a better deal than for any group of public sector workers in the UK and we urge the teaching unions to put this to their members for approval. We are engaging positively with the unions and discussions will continue."

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: "This level of teacher stress is shocking and highlights a real crisis in our classrooms.

"It is clear that the pressures of workload are simply compounded by the lack of full teaching staff in many schools.

"These are the reasons that many teachers are already being forced out of the profession and schools are forced to rely on supply teachers.

"Education is supposed to be the SNP's top priority but they are failing to support our teachers.

"The SNP must now listen to teachers, address teacher shortages and give our children the education they deserve."

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