Teachers tell of high workload and attacks
Letters to first minister tell of classroom stresses
Teachers have described physical and verbal assaults, overwhelming workloads and a lack of staff in letters sent to the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in October asked teachers to write to her to tell her about their experiences of working in the profession.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Conservatives has released 60 out of 120 letters which were sent during that time.
Among the letters, concerns over assaults, as well as difficulty in managing the level of work required, were raised.
In one letter, a teacher writes: “The class teacher was hit, I was kicked and punched. My amazing support staff were subject to repeated kicks to the stomach and were bitten.”
Another teacher wrote: “The best teacher I have ever seen left last year due to paperwork and sheer unmanageable workload... something must be done before there are no teachers left.”
The lack of teaching staff was also cited as a significant issue.
The Scottish Conservatives have said the letters highlight the pressure teachers are under. Liz Smith MSP, Scottish shadow education secretary, said: “These letters speak for themselves. As well as all the other pressures being cited, the growing level of violence in our classrooms is a major worry.
“It is a completely unacceptable state of affairs that many teachers are forced to operate in this kind of environment.
“It is also interesting to note that teachers believe some of the problem is created by the well-intentioned, but problematic policy which encourages local authorities to mainstream all pupils where possible.
“John Swinney has said mainstreaming policy should be reviewed. He has to do so urgently.”
Education Secretary John Swinney said the Scottish Government is working towards improving conditions. “No teacher should have to suffer abuse and we want all pupils to behave in a respectful manner towards their peers and staff.
“Our refreshed guidance on preventing and managing schools exclusions includes guidance on managing challenging behaviour.
“The number of teachers is the highest since 2010 and we have committed to creating opportunities for teachers to develop their careers. We have undertaken a range of actions to reduce workload, acting to clarify and simplify the curriculum framework and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy.”
UNDER PRESSURE: The letters to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon report problems due to a shortage of teaching staff in Scotland’s schools