Teach­ers cite as­saults in let­ters to Stur­geon

● Grow­ing work­loads, lack of staff and phys­i­cal abuse among prob­lems listed

The Scotsman - - Brexit - By LEWIS MCKEN­ZIE

Teach­ers have de­scribed phys­i­cal and ver­bal as­saults, over­whelm­ing work­loads and a lack of staff in schools in let­ters sent to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon in Oc­to­ber asked teach­ers in Scot­land 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.

One let­ter stated: “We share a head­teacher but she is avail­able less and less to man­age our school as the work­load at our clus­ter school is ever in­creas- ing due to cuts in sup­port staff, so­cial ser­vices, pri­mary men­tal health ser­vices, speech and lan­guage – the list goes on.”

The Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives have said that the let­ters high­light the pres­sure teach­ers are un­der in schools, in­clud­ing in­creased lev­els of vi­o­lence in the class­room.

Liz Smith MSP, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive shadow ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, said: “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 from the let­ters that teach­ers be­lieve some of the prob­lems are cre­ated by the wellinten­tioned, but none­the­less in­creas­ingly prob­lem­atic pol­icy which en­cour­ages lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to main­stream all pupils wher­ever pos­si­ble.

“In far too many cases, pupils with par­tic­u­lar sup­port needs are in classes which can­not pos­si­bly pro­vide them with the sup­port they need.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary John Swin­ney said that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing con­di­tions for teach­ers. “No teacher should have to suf­fer abuse in the work­place,,” said Mr Swin­ney. “Our re­freshed guid­ance on pre­vent­ing and man­ag­ing schools ex­clu­sions, pub­lished in June 2017, in­cludes guid­ance on man­ag­ing chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour.

“The num­ber of teach­ers is the high­est since 2010 and we have com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for teach­ers to de­velop their ca­reers.”

Con­cerns over as­saults and dif­fi­culty man­ag­ing the level of work re­quired have been raised

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