Teach­ers tell of high work­load and at­tacks

Let­ters to first min­is­ter tell of class­room stresses

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY LEWIS MCKEN­ZIE

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

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