Stressing the point

15th September 2000 at 01:00
I REFER to the report, "Stress levels at danger point" (TESS, August 25). I would take issue with the penultimate paragraph which indicates that "Stress management and other specialist courses . . . had not been taken up by the unions".

As leader of the teachers' side of the joint consultative group Highland I am not aware of any such courses not being "taken up". I am aware of a paper tabled by the director of education, which put forward suggestions as to how headteachers may identify and manage stress. Among the suggestions was the selection of nine teachers to provide basic counselling and support for stressed teachers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland consulted widely on the paper and agreed to continue informal discussion. However, it must be said that the emphasis seems the wrong way round. Rather than dealing with the symptoms of stress we would wish to consider the causes of stress. It is clear that excessive workload and, increasingly so, the management of disruptive children are the main causes. The paper in question does not address these issues.

The chair of Highland education committee makes a valid point about the poor state of many schools but the employee survey referred to in your report spelt out clearly that while 44 per cent of teachers were satisfied with the quality of the environment in which they worked, only 5 per cent were satisfied with the support they received.

Andrew Stewart

Highland EIS Secretary


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