Teachers hit out at rising violence and workload

Teachers revealed a disturbing number of assaults by pupils in their letters to Nicola Sturgeon. Pic: Sean Bell (posed by models)
Teachers revealed a disturbing number of assaults by pupils in their letters to Nicola Sturgeon. Pic: Sean Bell (posed by models)

Teachers have revealed a disturbing level of physical and verbal assaults, overwhelming workload and lack of staff numbers.

In October First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asked teachers to write to her to tell her about their experiences.

120 Scottish teachers wrote to the Scottish Government and 60 of those letters have been released following a freedom of information request by the Scottish Conservatives.

The letters outline a disturbing catalogue of physical and verbal violence.

One says: “The class teacher was hit. I was kicked and punched. My amazing support staff were subject to repeated kicks to the stomach and were bitten.”

Teachers also repeatedly raised the issue of increased and extreme workload.

Another wrote: “The best teacher I have ever seen left last year due to paperwork and sheer unmanageable workload. Something must be done before there are no teachers left.”

The lack of teaching staff is also regularly cited as a significant issue.

It was stated: “We share a head teacher but she is available less and less to manage our school as the workload at our cluster school is ever increasing due to cuts in support staff, social services, primary mental health services, speech and language; the list goes on.”

Some of the most concerning revelations refer to schools covering up their teacher shortages and teachers feeling unable to raise issues for fear of dismissal.

Central Scotland list MSP Margaret Mitchell, who is a former teacher, said: “These letters once again highlight the pressures teachers are under in our schools, including the increased levels of violence in the classroom.

“This is a gravely serious situation, I therefore encourage teachers in Lanarkshire, facing difficult conditions, to speak out about the pressures they face.

“It is only by being able to understand and assess the true extent of the difficulties facing dedicated teachers that these problems can be properly addressed.”