17 February 2020

A report from Barnardo’s published today (Monday) has found that structured support for the mental health and wellbeing of Education staff is lacking.

Findings from the report have revealed that many of those working in Education feel they are struggling to deal with the complexity of their pupils’ lives, alongside the requirement to achieve the required academic outcomes.

They cite associated workloads and stress.

Barnardos found that teaching assistants, pupil support assistants, nurture teachers and guidance teachers are often the ones at the forefront of supporting the most vulnerable pupils, and that Head Teachers are dealing with extremely high-level child protection cases and inadequate personal support.

The report states that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing could be vastly improved if the right support was available for the adults who care for them every day.

Barnardos ultimately call for “supervision” structures to be developed and implemented as a matter of urgency for all practitioners involved in child protection.

They also say this should be considered for all education staff as part of the wider commitment within the recent Pay Deal to support and improve teacher health and wellbeing and agency.

“Supervision” in this context means dedicated time, set aside regularly, for critical reflection where an individual can discuss and talk through the impact their work is having on them – this should be separate to anything related to performance management.

While there was support for Supervision in Education in principle, respondents in the report indicated that time constraints and workload could act as barriers to effective implementation.

Scottish Labour said that local authorities must have the resources necessary to ensure teachers are properly supported.

Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“Teachers in Scotland are dealing with pressures and some of the highest teaching workloads in the world.

"We are supportive of supervision in education, but it is essential that local authorities are properly funded so that such structures of support can be effectively implemented.

“We know that since the SNP came to power, teacher numbers have fallen by more than 2,500, and per pupil spend has dropped over the past decade.

“Resourcing issues clearly continue to affect education in Scotland.

"Until these are addressed, many teachers will continue to receive insufficient support.

“Scottish Labour will fight throughout the budget process for a fair deal for local government and Scotland’s schools.”
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