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SNP presiding over ‘mental health crisis in Scottish teaching’

The SNP have been accused of presiding over a “mental health crisis in Scottish teaching” after it emerged that more than 6,000 staff were signed off with stress in the last academic year.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives via Freedom of Information requests reveal that 6,670 teachers and school staff were absent from work for mental-health reasons in 2021-2022.

This was a rise of 181 on the previous year and took the total number of staff signed off for stress-related conditions in the last five years to 28,034.

And these figures almost certainly underestimate the true scale of the problem, as 4 of Scotland’s 32 councils didn’t provide numbers.

The stats come against a backdrop of increased pupil violence, with almost 20,000 verbal or physical attacks against teachers in the last academic year alone, and the first teacher strikes in almost 40 years.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Kerr described the figures as “grimly predictable given the intolerable strain teachers are under” due to the SNP’s mismanagement of Scotland’s education system”.

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for education Stephen Kerr MSP said: “These alarming figures point to a mental health crisis in Scottish teaching on the SNP’s watch. 

“The number of stress-related absences among school employees is extremely worrying but also grimly predictable given the intolerable strain teachers are operating under.

“Scotland’s education system is at breaking point thanks to the SNP’s chronic mismanagement, and teachers and support staff are suffering as a result.

“On top of falling education standards and ministers’ failure to close the attainment gap, we’re seeing an unacceptable surge of violence in classrooms.

“It’s little wonder, then, that we’re seeing so many teachers off sick due to stress, not to mention the first strikes in almost 40 years.

“Teachers are totally scunnered with this SNP Government, and the education secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has been asleep at the wheel throughout the current pay dispute.

“Nicola Sturgeon asked to be judged on her education record, claiming it was her ‘number one priority’. Well, it’s a shameful one, and her abject failure is not only letting down Scotland’s pupils, it’s taking a devastating toll on teachers’ mental health.”

Notes

 

Over 6,000 teachers and school staff were signed off with stress or poor mental health. Freedom of information requests reveal that 6,670 members of school staff missed days of work as a result of stress or poor mental health (Scottish Conservative FOI, available on request).

Over the past 5 years there have been over 28,000 teachers and school staff signed off with stress or poor mental health. Freedom of information requests reveal that 28,034 members of school staff missed days of work as a result of stress or poor mental health (Scottish Conservative FOI, available on request).

 

There have been almost 75,000 recorded physical or verbal attacks on school teachers and staff since 2017-18. Data reveals there have been at least 73,198 instances of verbal or physical abuse aimed at school teachers or staff since 2017-18. (Scottish Daily Express, 6 December 2022, link).

 

In 2021-22, there was almost 20,000 recorded physical or verbal attacks on school teachers and staff. Data reveals there have been at least 19,517 instances of verbal or physical abuse aimed at school teachers or staff in the last academic year 2021-22. (Scottish Daily Express, 6 December 2022, link).