Scots teachers ‘at burnout’ with seven in 10 stressed ‘most or all’ of the time

Seven in 10 teachers feel stressed in their job frequently or all of the time, according to new research by a teaching union.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) survey also found that half of all teachers (50%) described their level of wellbeing at work as “very poor” (13%) or “poor” (37%).

More than 16,000 teachers responded to the survey and some described feeling “at burnout” and “disillusioned” while one said it feels as though they are “on a constant treadmill”.

Inadequate staffing levels/staff shortages/lack of cover/unfilled vacancies was mentioned most often as a source of stress, followed by the adoption of a “business as usual” approach by management/local authority at the same time as dealing with the pandemic.

Anxiety regarding protection from infection at work was also often cited as a concern.

However the survey found that the vast majority of teachers seeking to manage stress have done so on their own (73%), with only 12% seeking help via their school or local authority employer (3%).

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the survey results make for “very worrying reading”.

He said: “Teachers have a demanding job which, coupled with the additional strains of teaching during the pandemic, is placing severe stress on our members right across Scotland.

“The fact that seven out ten teachers feel stressed either frequently or all of the time at work is a huge cause for concern.

“International research has shown that teacher well-being is a pre-requisite for pupil wellbeing and effective teaching and learning.

“It is also evident that adequate support for teachers suffering from stress simply isn’t there, with the vast majority of teachers seeking to manage this without the support of their employer.

“It is also very telling that almost 60% of teachers would not currently recommend teaching as a career.

“The Scottish Government and Cosla have clearly stated that we need more teachers in our classrooms to support education recovery – but this will be extremely difficult to achieve in the current climate, where teachers are over-worked, under-supported and being offered a real-terms pay cut.

“These survey results send a very clear message, which must be heeded by local authorities and the Scottish Government.”

In total 16,056 responses were received to the survey, which was carried out in November.

It found that 70% of teachers said they feel stressed in their job either frequently (48%) or all of the time (22%).

The majority of teachers (59%) said they would not recommend teaching as a career to other people.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We take the health and wellbeing of our teachers very seriously. In the last year we have invested over £2 million specifically in supporting teacher wellbeing with a package of support, developed in conjunction with the Education Recovery Group.

“We are also committed to reducing teacher workload through reducing class contact time by 90 minutes per week to give teachers more time to plan and ease their workload.

“Figures published this week show that teacher numbers have increased for the sixth year in a row, rising to 54,285 in 2021.

“There are now over 2,000 more teachers than before the start of the pandemic in 2019, and more teachers than at any time since 2008. The ratio of pupils to teachers is at its lowest since 2009.”

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