From education to employment

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

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International

According to a survey by Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), seven in 10 teachers feel stressed in their job frequently or all of the time.

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

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%).

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International:

“This latest report by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) found that teachers feel ‘burnout’ and ‘disillusioned’, while one said it feels as though they are ‘on a constant treadmill’. The results of this report are extremely worrying. Teachers have unfortunately suffered the brunt of the pandemic. From suffering from a lack of staff to facing the spread of Covid-19, and teaching remotely.  

“Stress, unfortunately, has a significantly negative impact on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. A UK workplace stress survey by Perkbox revealed that 55% of respondents experience anxiety because of work stress, 43% lose sleep, and a third turn to comfort eating.  

“Schools and the local government authorities need to prioritise helping teachers to manage stress and help them find ways to alleviate that stress. Unfortunately, the staffing crisis won’t be resolved overnight, and the government needs more teachers to match the demand. However, school leaders are responsible for the wellbeing of teaching staff. If this is not addressed, they will find these teachers resigning in favour of other schools or careers that prioritise mental health and wellbeing initiatives.  

“Some ways to support employees in tackling stress include encouraging communication, speaking to teachers to understand why they feel stressed and working together to create a better working environment. Support teachers with training on stress management so they can understand how to tackle stress themselves.”

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  1. A low cost and prompt response to this ongoing educational muddle is for teachers to trim the homework which requires marking. Instead, pupils are asked to read – either revision of earlier chapters or related topics within the local press/websites. Parents can be invited to discuss this less formal homework with the youngsters at home.
    Some decades ago, I recall, a major figure in the church hierarchy advised that parents were the real educators, not classroom staff – a remark perhaps related to family values and parental authority.