Cash pleato ease staffroom stress

LEADERS of the new agency set up to support the well-being of teachers are to meet Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister, on Monday to seek backing.

Teacher Support Scotland, the offshoot of a body south of the border which is resourced partly by the Department for Education and Skills, plays on some key Government priorities.

It points out that recruitment will be hit "unless teaching is perceived to be a rewarding and less stressful career". The Executive has already estimated that Scotland needs 17,500 new teachers over the next nine years.

Low well-being and morale have a costly effect on staff turnover, sickness and early retirement, the agency argues. The cost of salaries paid to teachers while absent is put at nearly pound;43 million a year.

The agency points to a recent Appeal Court ruling in England that employers must make provision to reduce stress in the workplace and to give access to counselling and treatment. This would establish a legal "benchmark" in Scotland, it believes. South of the border 25,000 teachers have called the Teacherline telephone counselling service.

The Scottish initiative wants the Executive initially to help with research. If this confirms that a comprehensive support service is required, it wants the Executive to endorse and resource it.

The project has already won the backing of the teaching unions, the education directorate, headteachers, health professionals and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency. The most conspicuous absentee is the General Teaching Council for Scotland, whose English equivalent supports the network south of the border.

Ironically, the chair of Teacher Support Scotland is Ivor Sutherland, former registrar of the GTC.

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