Majority of Scotland’s teachers regularly stressed at work
More than 75% of teachers in Scotland often feel stressed because of their workload.
This was one of the findings of a survey of 12,000 teaching staff by Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teachers’ trade union as part of its Value Education, Value Teachers campaign for better pay.
The EIS said the poll revealed some “shocking” findings. Three-fifths of respondents (60%) said their workload left them feeling stressed “frequently”. Another 16.5% admitted they were stressed “all the time”.
Asked whether they would recommend teaching as a career, 70% of respondents said they would not.
The full results of the survey are expected to be published later this month.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “While our Value Education, Value Teachers campaign is primarily about reversing the decade-long sharp real-terms decline in teachers’ pay, it has also become a lightning rod for other issues of significant concern.
“Excessive workload and high levels of stress are clearly also contributing to the high levels of dissatisfaction felt by many teachers. It is this toxic combination of soaring workload and declining pay that has created the current recruitment and retention crisis facing Scottish education.
“Both of these issues must be addressed,” he added.
The EIS has also warned members against checking work emails during non-working hours after concerns this is creating an always-on culture for teaching staff.
New guidance published last month by the trade union says teachers should avoid routinely checking and sending emails out-of-hours to “disconnect” from work and improve their work-life balance.
“‘Dipping in’ to your work emails whilst doing other activities outwith working hours means that you are emotionally and mentally at work, even if you are physically elsewhere. This, over the long term, may affect your mental health or relationships,” the document states.
“Overuse of emails generate ‘long hours’ working and a failure to disconnect from work. These have been shown to adversely affect the health and mortality of workers, workplace relationships and to reduce the quality of work.”
It also warns against writing emails before bed as this can have a negative impact on sleep quality.
The guidance is designed for lecturers but is also relevant to staff working in other sectors.
Flanagan said: “Advances in technology, such as the boom in the use of smartphones and other mobile devices, have increased the pressure on employees to be constantly ‘on call’ and ready to respond to communications at extremely short notice. This is an added stressor on top of already high workloads, with serious implications for employee’s mental health and wellbeing.
“All employers have a duty of care to their employees, so it is incumbent on all employers, including educational establishments, to take steps to protect employee mental health.”
Keeley Downey is assistant editor of IOSH Magazine