It will soon be time for teachers to step away from the Christmas cake, take down the tinsel, brave the dreich winter weather and return to the classroom.
To help ease what will doubtless be a painful transition for many and get the new calendar year off to a good start, Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, is launching a new online resource to promote health and wellbeing for teachers that includes a link to a website that teaches meditation “in just a few minutes a day”.
Background: Teaching time way above average in Scotland
Excessive workload demands are one of the most frequently cited concerns among Scotland’s teachers. A major survey of Scotland’s teachers, carried out by the EIS last year, indicated that 82 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with their workload levels, with 76 per cent saying that they felt stressed either “frequently” or “all of the time” in their jobs.
The new resource includes advice on how to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace and the relationship between stress and mental health problems, as well as linking to organisations that offer support to people struggling with their mental health.
One of the sites the resource links to is Headspace, which teaches meditation and was co-founded by a former monk.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said teachers were working an average of 46 hours per week – 11 hours over and above their contractual commitment of a 35-hour working week.
"With excessive workload comes an increased likelihood of stress and stress-related illness, which is detrimental to teachers’ health and wellbeing and which also has a negative impact on the learning environment for young people,” he said.
Mr Flanagan added: “This new online resource brings together a range of free, quality-assured advice and guidance on a range of issues related to health and wellbeing. This includes advice from the Trades Union Congress, Health and Safety Executive and Citizens Advice Bureau on mental health and wellbeing, and health and safety. There is a host of information and advice from other organisations too, all accessible from a single portal on the EIS website.
"We hope that will become a valuable resource for individual teachers in supporting their own health and wellbeing and, additionally, provide a focus for school-based initiatives under the Time to Tackle Workload campaign.”
The new resource goes live from next week, to coincide with the start of the new school year.