There’s no denying that being a school teacher today can be a challenging role.
In Edinburgh we have been in the positive position of being able to reduce stress-related sickness absence amongst school teachers by more than 50 per cent in the last three years. However, there is still a way to go in ensuring this issue is being dealt with in all schools and teachers are getting the support they need.
This issue, of course, also impacts our pupils who deserve a full and rounded education and incidences of teacher absence can have a negative impact on learning. One of the ways in which we help address these issues is by making sure when staff show signs of stress related illness that they are aware they can access counselling should they need it.
Collectively, we aim to prevent stress in the workplace and when it does happen, to address it head-on. Extra training is available for management to deal with stress-related illnesses and managers are encouraged to seek support.
As in any role or organisation, significant change can be an area for concern amongst staff. However by working closely with schools to ensure concerns are pre-empted, and issues are dealt with promptly we have managed to keep stress related absence down. Similarly, we work with the unions to make sure the support required by teachers is available and that each individual feels supported.
It’s hard to imagine the day will come when there are absolutely no teachers off with stress related illness but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to reach that goal.
• Councillor Paul Godzik is the city’s convener for education, and the children and families committee