The EIS held a joint fringe meeting with the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, at the SNP Conference today (Tuesday) where Mr Swinney outlined the Scottish Government’s aims and policies for Education.

In her response, EIS President Nicola Fisher highlighted the impact low pay and workload were having on the profession and said that this was having a "disastrous effect” on teachers’ health and wellbeing.

Ms Fisher said, "We calculate that teachers’ pay in Scotland has fallen by 16% in real terms. This means teachers are worse off by hundreds of pounds a month. Ordinary people did not cause the financial crisis, but we are certainly footing the bill.” 

"A teachers’ starting salary may compare relatively well but this falls away after a few years and then stagnates entirely. So we then have a scenario where teachers are opting to work in other countries or careers where the pay is better.” 

Commenting on the heavy workload burden facing teachers Ms Fisher said, "Workload is the iceberg of the education system. People think they understand the scale of the problem because they can see the tip of it, but unless you are experiencing it day in and day out, you cannot hope to grasp the full horror which lurks beneath the surface.” 

"Teachers are working far in excess of their contracted hours. With some reports saying teachers are regularly working 50 or 60 hour weeks. Even then all the work isn’t done. The effect this is having on teacher health and wellbeing is disastrous.”

Ms Fisher continued, "Scotland’s teachers are on their knees and if we want to close the attainment gap and we want a first-class education system, we have to help these people whose mental health is suffering, whose physical and emotional health is suffering and whose family life and personal life is suffering.”