The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers believes it has tapped a deep well of dissatisfaction among teachers in Scotland and warns that the majority want to leave the profession at the earliest opportunity.
The most emphatic finding, from a survey of 1,000 "non-activists", was that of the 550 who completed the questionnaire 88 per cent said they were dissatisfied with pay settlements over the past five years. This is not surprising given the relentless NAS campaign against the dominance of the Educational Institute of Scotland in the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee.
The survey also revealed that disruptive pupils, the subject of a bitter NAS campaign south of the border, are cited as a reason by 70 per cent of those seeking early retirement. And 95 per cent are tempted to leave because of stress due to "excessive" workload. Stress from "management bullying" is reported by 71 per cent, and inadequate pay and conditions by 81 per cent.
Tino Ferri, who represents Scotland on the NAS's national executive, said the views came from "those who never raise their heads above the parapet". The 550 who replied represent 16 per cent of the union's 3,500 Scottish members.
Teachers had been "victims of their own dedication for too long", Mr Ferri said. Asked what they should do to improve workload, pay and working conditions, almost 90 per cent preferred "action short of strike action".
The NAS clearly believes it is on a roll as the teachers' champion against disruptive pupils. Mr Ferri said that the union's high profile on the issue was helping recruitment in Scotland, particularly in primary schools. "Teachers are not in the business of the containment of disruptive pupils. That is the duty of the education authorities," he declared.
Mr Ferri reiterated the case for excluding unruly pupils but added: "The whole point of sin bins is to integrate pupils back into the system easily, and that means providing them with exposure to a full alternative curriculum not plasticine classes or woodwork."
Carol Fox, newly arrived from London as the union's Scottish regional official and a former social worker, suggested that proper services and resources for problem children no longer existed. Referring to battles in England involving school governors over pupil disruption, Mr Ferri said Scotland had at least one advantage. "We talk to education administrators who have mostly been trained as teachers, not to gifted amateurs."