Letters to Nicola Sturgeon reveal teachers ‘on the brink of breakdown’

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Teachers in Scotland’s schools have told Nicola Sturgeon they are “struggling to the brink of breakdown” due to increasing workloads and a lack of frontline staff.

In a series of letters to the First Minister, teachers described the profession as being “at crisis point” and warned classrooms were likely to be hit by strikes unless action was taken on pay.

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin

The correspondence, released following a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Government, paints a picture of teachers struggling to cope with mounting stress.

The letters were sent directly to Ms Sturgeon in October, shortly after she encouraged teachers to come forward with any concerns they had about the education system.

The SNP leader issued the call after an anonymous letter from a primary school teacher was read out in the Scottish Parliament, claiming staff had been told to “keep our mouths shut”.

The letters to Ms Sturgeon were sent by additional support teachers, who are in charge of children that need extra help with their learning.

One said they were often called in to cover for absent colleagues due to a lack of staff, adding the shortages were “directly impacting on my role in raising attainment”.

They said: “I am constantly concerned by the lack of new teachers entering the profession and the resulting impact this has on the education of my children and other children.”

Another told how their job had become “increasingly unmanageable and stressful”, leaving them unable to take full lunch breaks and having to work at home for up to three hours each night.

“I am completely exhausted both emotionally and physically by the end of my week,” they wrote.

Another said: “In class, teachers are struggling to the brink of breakdown. The ­pressures on teachers to close the attainment gap with the inclusion agenda has become unrealistic.

“The teachers who care about their pupils are working longer and longer days, giving up holidays and are at breaking point if not already broken.”

Another said they were “saddened” by what they were witnessing in classrooms.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “This is a damning appraisal of the condition of additional support straight from the front line.

“Years of cuts from the SNP government to local education budgets are now beginning to take their toll and vulnerable children are missing out as a result.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the number of teachers in the nation’s schools was at its highest level since 2010, adding: “We are grateful to teachers for taking the time to share their views and experiences with us.”