Staffroom headache over problem pupils

9th May 2003 at 01:00
TEACHERS overwhelmingly feel "compassion, frustration and anger" over lack of support in dealing with problem pupils.

The latest survey from the Educational Institute of Scotland, published today (Friday), shows that 69 per cent are dissatisfied with the advice and information they receive from education authorities to help them cope with pupils classified as having social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD).

This issue is now almost certain to be the dominating educational preoccupation for the new Scottish Parliament over the next four years. The EIS findings mirror remarkably closely those of a survey last November by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association which reported that three-quarters of members felt that the measures in place are inadequate.

The EIS survey, based on returns from 772 schools, a quarter of the total, found that only 9 per cent of members expressed satisfaction with the back-up from authorities - only 1 per cent said they were "most satisfied".

Staffing is a major complaint in staffrooms, with 80 per cent of teachers dissatisfied with the number of teachers allocated to SEBD pupils. Lack of training is also singled out, with more than 60 per cent complaining - again almost precisely the same figure as in the SSTA survey.

Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, commented: "The returns show clearly that teachers are dissatisfied with the support they receive to implement a key educational policy of the Executive. There is no category where satisfied exceeds dissatisfied."

Mr Smith continued: "The returns reveal a profession that, while accepting the underlying principles of inclusion and the provision of mainstream education for all pupils, also reveal levels of compassion, frustration and anger.

"There is compassion for children who are not benefiting; frustration because teachers know what can be effective for staff and pupils but do not have access to the requisite support; and anger that their commitment is not matched with the necessary resources."

The EIS now intends to press its case in talks with the Scottish Executive and local authorities.

In its summary of the findings, the EIS points out that comments from teachers highlight many examples of good practice in schools. "It is clear that teachers are committed. Known strategies are popular and well used.

Many of the strategies which benefit pupils also benefit staff.

"The main concerns are the lack of staffing and time, the lack of specialist support and training for teachers. Teachers require help to deal with specific and immediate problems but also require time to reflect on complex issues."

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