Aiming Higher gets teachers up and out of their sick beds

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
THROUGH flu and fever, North Lanarkshire teachers, part of the country's most dedicated workforce, will get through to nurture young minds and raise achievement - if you swallow council statistics on staff absence.

They obviously just love working in the the Aiming Higher authority and do everything possible, come first ring of the bell in the morning, to ensure their presence in the front line.

It is often claimed life in the classroom is more stressful, draining and challenging than many occupations but teachers are bottom of the list of council employees for staff absence.

A mere 3.9 per cent were off sick between April and September last year, in contrast to 7.2 per cent of social workers, who top the non-manual list by some margin. Manual orkers in education split them at 5.8 per cent.

It seems manual and craft jobs are almost twice as likely to induce ill-health and absence than non-manual occupations.

The council is happy to observe a steady fall in staff absence for teachers. At the same stage in 1999, 5.24 per cent were off on long-term absence, for six weeks or more, itself down on earlier figures. An ageing workforce is a factor in absences, the council admits.

Michael O'Neill, director of education, said teachers' commitment put them ahead of other departments. The department has employed a specialist welfare officer for the past three years to offer a confidential advice and support service to teachers. "That has been a very valuable service," Mr O'Neill said.

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