Scots teachers face 'longest hours in the world' says union chief

Scotland's teachers take to the streets in 2018
Scotland's teachers take to the streets in 2018
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Unions have hit out at some of the "longest hours in the world" facing teachers in Scotland and large class sizes as they launched a national survey of working conditions.

The EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland) says it is determined to tackle "excessive teacher workload" with a warning that pupils' learning is suffering.

The Scottish Government insists it is already acting to reduce teacher workloads.

The union has launched a new national survey of Scotland’s teachers in support of the union’s Time to Tackle Workload initiative.

The last survey in 2018 found four-fifths of teachers were dissatisfied with workload levels and three-quarters were stressed frequently or all of the time.

“Scotland’s teachers work some of the longest hours in the world, with a far larger teaching commitment than teachers in most other countries," Mr Flanagan said today.

"Scotland also has large class sizes, with a profound impact on both teacher workload and the learning environment of pupils. The EIS is committed to campaigning to address these issues, with the aim of cutting both maximum class size and teachers’ maximum class contact hours to 20. These campaign aims will become a major focus as we move towards negotiations on teachers’ next pay settlement, which is due in April next year.”

He added: “I would urge all EIS members to take part in this major new survey, to inform the next stage of the EIS workload campaign and to equip the EIS with strong evidence as we head towards our next set of negotiations with the Scottish Government and Scotland’s local authorities.”

The last survey also found that 64% reported working more than 5 hours extra a week, over and above their contracted hours, while 88% said their stress levels had either stayed the same or had increased over the previous year.

Mr Flanagan added: "The last national EIS survey, conducted as part of our Value Education, Value Teachers campaign, laid bare the true scale of the workload burden that is being placed on Scotland’s teachers.

"Following the success of the pay element of our campaign, the EIS has now refocussed its campaigning work on tackling excessive teacher workload. Over the past year, we have been building our campaign and encouraging our members to engage with the Scottish Government’s empowering schools agenda as a means to take control of teacher workload.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said a "range of actions" have been undertaken to reduce teacher workload, including simplifying the curriculum framework and removing "unnecessary" bureaucracy.

A spokesman added: “In addition, we are currently working in partnership with the teaching profession, including EIS, on the development of new professional learning opportunities for teachers focussing on their health and wellbeing.

"Our work to improve conditions for teachers is further demonstrated by the pay deal agreed last year, which delivers a 13% rise over three years and provides a shared agenda with employers and teacher unions on addressing workload, additional support for learning and empowering schools for the next two years.”