Around 500 new teachers to receive online support over Covid-19 'pressures'

Hundreds of teachers who are new to the profession or working in pastoral or child protection roles are to be offered one-on-one support to help deal with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Education secretary John Swinney said teachers need to be part of a "supportive online community." Picture: Getty ImagesEducation secretary John Swinney said teachers need to be part of a "supportive online community." Picture: Getty Images
Education secretary John Swinney said teachers need to be part of a "supportive online community." Picture: Getty Images

More than 500 teachers across Scotland will be able to access the online sessions to discuss any personal or professional pressures they are facing as a result of the shift to remote learning.

Education secretary John Swinney said the package would allow teachers to “have the space to stop and think” about issues causing concern.

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However, the project will only be available to around 1 per cent of teachers, based on Scottish Government statistics, which show there 53,400 full-time equivalent teachers in post in 2020.

Only last month, the EIS union said a survey of its members identified widespread concern over the wellbeing of school staff, noting they felt under pressure due to their workload.

It has also called for recognition of the additional challenges brought about by the cancellation of an exam diet, warning that teachers should be not treated as “unpaid markers”.

Under the new support scheme, announced on Sunday by the Scottish Government, the one-on-one sessions will be provided by Edinburgh-based social enterprise organisation KnowYouMore, which is already providing help to head teachers as part of a support package put in place last year.

Those eligible for the new initiative include those teachers in the first four years of post-probation.

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Mr Swinney said: “Covid-19 has placed unprecedented strain on school staff and none more so than those who have pastoral care and child protection responsibilities, ensuring the emotional welfare of our children and young people as we recover from the pandemic.

“The teacher support package I announced last year will complement the existing professional training and support already taking place for staff in schools across Scotland.”

He added: “Teachers need to be part of a supportive online community and have the space to stop and think about issues that are causing concern.”

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Ken Muir, chief executive of the General Teaching Council (GTC) for Scotland, which together with Education Scotland has partnered with KnowYouMore to set up the new online sessions, said: "GTC Scotland is pleased to be working with our partners in education to deliver this important coaching to support hard-pressed teachers who are doing all they can to maintain quality learning in challenging circumstances.

“In addition to this coaching, GTC Scotland itself has invested heavily in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of education professionals and will continue to do so throughout the pandemic.”

Gayle Gorman, chief executive of Education Scotland, said: “Education Scotland is fully committed to ensuring the education workforce feel supported and I’m delighted this next phase of our coaching and mentoring offer is available more widely.

“We have found that it really benefits teachers to know there is someone with a listening ear who are there for them.”

An Education Scotland report earlier this month into remote learning found that in almost every school looked at, the workload pressures and wellbeing of staff were identified as a concern.

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