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Healthy figures on staffroom absence

Teachers take less time off through sickness than any other group of local authority staff, figures from Audit Scotland show.

The value for money watchdog found that overall 3.8 per cent of teachers'

working time was lost due to sickness in 2003-04, against an average rate for council employees of 5.3 per cent.

The general figure has remained unchanged since 1999-2000, but the figure for teacher illness has come down slightly from the previous year.

The 3.8 per cent rate for teachers contrasts with 6.3 per cent for craft and manual employees, and 5.2 per cent for the group which includes chief officers, administrative, professional, technical and clerical employees.

Teacher absenteeism through illness varies considerably across councils, however, from 2.9 per cent in Edinburgh and Western Isles schools to 5.2 per cent in Clackmannanshire.

Thirteen councils reported lower levels of absenteeism among teachers compared with the previous year. Glasgow and South Ayrshire have reduced the levels each year for the past four years.

The Educational Institute of Scotland said the level of commitment was not surprising, but there would be concern if genuinely ill teachers were struggling into work.

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