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Independent Research Highlights poor Working Conditions of Scotland's Teachers

Thursday 7 September 2017

A major new piece of independent research, carried out by academics at Bath Spa University, has highlighted that the working conditions of Scotland’s teachers are 'extremely poor'.

The research found that teachers in Scotland face high levels of workload demand, leading to greater stress and reduced job satisfaction. Significantly, the research also found that over 40% of teachers surveyed plan to leave their post within the next 18 months.

The research also studied the working conditions of social workers, which are highlighted in a separate research report.

Commenting on the report on teachers' working conditions, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The results of this independent research confirm that Scotland’s teachers continue to be overburdened with excessive workload demands and are subject to high levels of stress."

"This will obviously have a detrimental impact on morale within the profession and on teachers’ health and wellbeing."

Mr Flanagan added, "Particularly worrying, in light of the recruitment challenges that exist across the country, is the finding that over 40% of teachers are considering leaving their job within the next 18 months."

"This clearly highlights the need for urgent action to make teaching a more attractive profession, with better working conditions, to ensure that we can continue to attract and retain highly qualified graduates into teaching."

"This must include reducing the bureaucratic and workload demands on teachers, ensuring that schools are fully staffed and significant improvements in levels of pay following a decade of real-terms cuts to teachers’ salaries."

Report co-author Dr Jermaine Ravalier, also co-lead of the Psychological Research Group at Bath Spa University, said, "While it is clear that teachers and social workers find the nature of their jobs deeply fulfilling, this is no longer enough to outweigh the impact that governmental cuts are having on their jobs."

"These studies add significant academic and objective evidence to much of the anecdotal evidence we often hear about. We have clear evidence therefore that underfunding in our public services is leading to increased stress and intentions to leave."

Dr Ravalier added, "If only half of those who said they’d leave actually do so in the next 18 months, our public services are about to be hit with a huge exodus of staff."

"If and when this happens it is not only hugely expensive, but will also have massive impacts on our next generation, as well as those who require the help and support of our social services."

"The role played by teachers and social workers is vital for the whole of society, so the findings of this work should be a catalyst for greater investment in our public services.”

Dr Ravalier is presenting the research findings today (Thursday) at the British Science Festival in Brighton, event organised by the British Science Association and co-hosted by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex.

The EIS did not commission or influence the research, but offered some support to the authors in publicising the research project to teaching professionals across Scotland.

Notes for editors

  • A Copy of the research report Scotland’s Teachers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing can be found here, for information.
Key findings from the research report include:
  • The working conditions that teachers in Scotland are exposed to are, irrespective of job role, extremely poor
  • The only exception to this is the measure named 'peer support', or the amount of help and support from colleagues, which scores relatively well across all groups (especially primary teachers) other than college lecturers
  • Scottish teachers have high levels of demands, poor control over how they perform their functions, poor support from management, at times strained relationships at work, a poor understanding of their role in an organisation, and are exposed to a lot of organisational change without consultation
  • On average teachers work at a minimum 11 hours more than they are contracted to each week
  • Both primary and secondary teachers are exposed to high levels of poor student behaviour, and approximately 40% of primary teachers are exposed to negative parental behaviour either online or on school premises at least once a month
  • Teachers in Scotland have too many administrative expectations and not enough preparation time, as well as a lack of managerial support mechanisms for dealing with challenging student and parental behaviour
  • Most Scottish teachers are dissatisfied in their role, and over 40% are planning on leaving their job in the next 18 months
  • Author profiles: Dr Jermaine Ravalier; Dr Joe Walsh