Edinburgh's special school staff are 'at breaking point' over lack of support

Increasing class sizes of children with complex needs and lack of support causing staff to feel overwhelmed

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 7:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 7:28 am
A rise in complex needs with little support is causing staff to feel 'on their knees'

A teaching union has warned that staff in Edinburgh’s special schools are “at breaking point” as they are stretched by smaller class sizes and a lack of specialised support.

Edinburgh organisers from the EIS union have revealed research that shows that 88 per cent of teachers who work in special schools in the Capital feel overwhelmed by their workload weekly or daily.

They also found that 45 per cent of teachers felt that school management didn’t understand the job they are being asked to do.

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“We need an enhanced recruitment drive for specialised roles and to pay at an appropriate level. Support staff shortages are a huge problem.

“We have a pupil population that is increasingly complex and often we have too many pupils in one class. This has to be addressed as a matter of critical importance.

“There’s a great sense of stress and frustration in a profoundly challenging situation, colleagues have had enough, it’s not just the council, its wider issues like austerity and funding. Senior council official talks have all been positive and there is an understanding. We’re hopeful that through discussion changes can be made.”

One teacher said: “You can often feel overwhelmed especially when a pupil is non-verbal and there are other pupils being particularly triggering.

“It takes it out of you because you feel guilty that you can’t deliver the quality of care that the pupils deserve.”

Cllr Ian Perry, Education Convener, said: “We have been working with the EIS union regarding these issues and they have publicly acknowledged that progress is being made. Everyone fully realises there is still more to be done particularly in our special schools where children may display behaviours of concern. We have increased our investment every year to provide additional staff and resources and everyone is working incredibly hard to create the best possible learning and teaching environment.

“I am committed to working with the trade unions and all our staff in getting this right.”