Thousands Of Teachers In Scotland 'Feel Stressed Regularly Or Constantly'

25 January 2019, 07:21

Empty classroom

A majority of teachers surveyed by Scotland's largest teaching union say they feel stressed "frequently" or "all of the time".

The EIS spoke to more than 12,000 teachers over a two-week period in December and asked a range of questions regarding working conditions in the profession.

More than three-quarters (76%) responded that they felt stressed within their jobs on either a regular or constant basis, while 88% said they felt their stress levels had either stayed the same or increased over the past year.

In a question asking which aspect of work gave teachers the greatest amount of stress over the past year, 61% of respondents cited workload, while 52% attributed it to a combination of paperwork, admin and bureaucracy.

An overall 82% of respondents recorded they feel dissatisfied with their level of workload.

More than 78% of the teachers who responded said they disagreed there was adequate provision for children with additional support needs (ASN) in their school.

Asked what issues they would to be raise with the Scottish Government by EIS, the top three responses were pay, workload and ensuring appropriate resources/capacity and funding to deliver ASN.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "It is no surprise that dissatisfaction over levels of pay ranked highest on the list of concerns that teachers want to see addressed.

"However, frustration over high levels of workload and concerns over levels of provision for pupils with Additional Support Needs also ranked very high in the survey results.

"Our main campaigning focus for the past year has been aimed at securing a significant pay increase for Scotland's teachers and association professionals.

"However, the results of this survey indicate very clearly that, while pay remains the top priority, teachers are concerned about other issues also.

"Pay will be the main focus of our Value Education, Value Teachers campaign, until we secure an increase acceptable to our members.

"Once this element of the campaign is settled, however, we will refocus our campaign objectives on to the other key areas of concern identified by Scotland's teachers."

He added: "Both excessive levels of workload and concern over levels of provision for pupils with ASN are significant issues that teachers want to see addressed.

"There have been numerous initiatives aimed at reducing excessive levels of workload in teaching in recent years.

"Clearly, our members feel that these measures have not been successful in reducing workload to an acceptable level.

"Budget-driven cuts to ASN provision and staffing during the period of austerity have placed huge additional pressures on teachers and, even more worryingly, reduced the level of support available for pupils who need it.

"The EIS will be raising these matters directly with local authorities and the Scottish Government."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government's pay proposal would see teachers receive a minimum 9% increase between January 2018 and April 2019 and a further 3% rise in April 2020, demonstrating our commitment to recruit and retain teachers.

"We have taken action to reduce teacher workload, clarifying and simplifying the curriculum framework and removing unnecessary bureaucracy, while our education reforms will also create new opportunities for career development.

"We are committed to ensuring all pupils receive the support they need and we are working closely with local authorities to improve consistency of support across Scotland.

"This includes improved guidance, building capacity to deliver effective additional support, improving career pathways and providing professional development resources."

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "This survey paints a picture of a profession under increasing stress due to the mismanagement of our schools by the SNP.

"The evidence from teachers is a damning indictment of John Swinney's stewardship of our schools.

"Teachers in Scotland are having to do more work with less support, fewer colleagues and year-on-year cuts to budgets."

Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said: "The pressures of teaching in Scotland are well-known, yet SNP ministers have paid scant attention to issues of overwork, falling pay and cuts to additional support needs staff.

"Instead they have charged ahead with unwanted national tests and unnecessary governance reforms.

"Teachers have the full support of the Scottish Greens in their campaign for a better pay deal and we'll continue to hold the Government to account for this tragic failure to support young people with additional needs."

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott added: "The verdict from Scotland's teachers is damning. Under the SNP they are working longer and harder while seeing children struggle. That must be heart-breaking for dedicated professionals.

"Teachers have every right to demand better. The Scottish Government must finally give them a fair pay deal."