Scottish teachers on ‘verge of crisis’


Over half of teachers in Scotland have seriously considered leaving the profession in the last year and job satisfaction is “plummeting”, according to a survey by the NASUWT.

The union, which held its annual conference in Edinburgh last week, said workload was the biggest worry, cited by seven in 10 teachers, and changes to curriculum and qualifications were the biggest source of that excessive workload.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the survey of about 800 teachers showed the damage that was being inflicted on teachers’ professionalism, morale and skills by an “ideologically driven assault” on pay, pensions, working conditions and job security.

“This survey should be taken by the Scottish government as a graphic illustration that they have a profession on the verge of a crisis,” she said.?“Teachers are buckling under the impact of the failure of government and employers to recognise the centrality of the workforce to maintaining and enhancing high standards of education.”

The survey found that 51 per cent of respondents had thought of leaving teaching in the last 12 months, a rise of nine percentage points on the 2012 poll. Six in 10 Scottish teachers said their job satisfaction had dropped, compared with four in 10 the year before. Asked whether the pay freeze was putting people off a career in teaching, 62 per cent agreed.

Jane Peckham, NASUWT Scotland organiser, said: “The impact of the cuts to teachers’ pay and working conditions is now biting. A failure to invest in teachers is a failure to invest in the country’s children and young people.”

Unions are currently negotiating with Holyrood over pension changes that would mean teachers pay higher contributions and, in many cases, work until the age of 68 before a full pension.

Concerns also centre on extra work resulting from Curriculum for Excellence, which was introduced in 2010. The NASUWT conference heard how many teachers were “swamped in bureaucracy” from pupil assessments.

Ms Keates said the union would “escalate industrial action if necessary” to defend working conditions. “Attacks on the profession are direct attacks on our children and young people.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We take the issue of stress among teachers very seriously. We will continue to work with teachers’ organisations and local authorities to monitor teacher workload and other aspects of the job.”


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