‘Mass exodus’ of Scots teachers as 40% plan to leave profession

Teachers in Scotland are considering leaving the profession.  Picture: TSPL
Teachers in Scotland are considering leaving the profession. Picture: TSPL
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Over 40 per cent of Scotland’s teachers say they plan to quit their jobs over the next 18 months due to “extremely poor” working conditions, according to a major independent study.

Researchers said Scottish teachers were suffering a range of difficulties including high levels of demands, poor support from management, 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.

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Teachers also said they were overloaded with administrative responsibilities, did not get enough preparation time, and failed to get sufficient management help when dealing with poor student and parental behaviour.

Dr Jermaine Ravalier, who co-authored the report and is co-lead of the psychological research group at Bath Spa University, said if only half of those saying they intended leaving the profession moved on it would be hugely expensive for taxpayers and would impact on future generations.

“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.”

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Dr Ravalier who presented the research compiled with Dr Joe Walsh at the British Science Festival in Brighton, 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.”

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The research involved approximately 5,000 teaching staff. Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said urgent action was needed to retain teachers and make the profession more attractive to graduates. “The results of this independent research confirm 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. “Particularly worrying, in light of the recruitment challenges that exist across the country, is the finding that over 40 per cent 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 we can continue to attract and retain highly qualified graduates into teaching.

Mr Flanagan added: “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.”

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Iain Gray, Labour education spokesman, said his party was calling for an independent review to address the issues facing the profession.

“This week Nicola Sturgeon apparently re-committed to making education her top priority, but this report shows that the commitment is nothing more than an empty slogan.

“Thanks to the SNP, our children’s teachers are undervalued and under too much pressure. “That’s why Labour has called for an independent review of teachers’ pay, conditions and career structure to re-establish the profession as world leading, and attract new teachers to it.

“More than anything, we need to see proper investment in our schools. Scotland can have the best schools in the world - if the SNP government is prepared to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in them.”