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Stress levels at danger point

AS inspectors prepare to subject Highland to the first of the new education authority inspections, they are likely to find a highly dissatisfied and stressed teaching force, a council survey suggests.

The poll, carried out by MORI Scotland and reported to the personnel committee this week, found that 70 per cent of teachers are dissatisfied with the help they receive in dealing with workload issues. And 60 per cent are not happy with support in dealing with difficult pupils.

Clive Goodman, who chairs the personnel committee, said: "I think it was brave of the council to undertake this exercise, because we laid ourselves wide open to criticism. But we now have a benchmark, we know what is causing concern and these issues can be addressed."

Stuart Topp, Highlands and Islands area officer for the Educational Institute of Scotland, said directorates across Scotland ay lip-service to workload complaints. He said teacher stress levels appeared to be particularly high in the Highlands, reinforced by "unprecedented levels" of difficult and violent pupils.

Bruce Robertson, director of education, said that 14 new posts had been created in the pupil support service and bids for more have been submitted to the Scottish Executive's excellence fund. IT training, which received a 55 per cent dissatisfaction rating, would be stepped up over the next three years.

Stress management and other specialist training courses had been offered, but this had not been taken up by the unions.

Andy Anderson, chairman of the education committee, said that another factor could be the state of some school buildings and the teaching environment. The council's latest estimate for the cost of bringing its schools up to standard is pound;84 million.

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