1,500 years of school staff time lost to mental ill health

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today warned of the “tremendous toll” of mental health absences among staff at Scottish schools, as she revealed that 550,000 school staff days have been lost for mental health reasons since April 2017. 

Figures from 25 out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, uncovered by Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information legislation, reveal: 

  • 548,439 teacher and support staff days have been lost for mental health reasons since 2017-18.
  • The number of staff days lost has risen from 139,979 in 2017-18 to 181,191 days lost in 2019-20, the last full year for which data was available. 
  • Glasgow had the largest number of staff days lost in 2019-20 with 20,821 days lost, followed by Highland on 17,667 and Edinburgh on 13,464. 

 Commenting on the figures, Ms Wishart said: 

“These figures show that since 2017-18, 550,000 staff days have been lost for mental health reasons. That’s 1,503 years’ worth. 

“The pressures caused by the SNP’s top-down approach to education and the loss of valuable classroom support have been obvious for some time. It’s no surprise that both teacher morale and Scotland’s performance in international educational surveys are headed in the wrong direction. All of this was taking its toll long before the coronavirus pandemic came over the horizon. 

“Since then, teachers have been thrust into the frontline, dealing with conditions that no other group has been asked to tolerate. It will be no surprise if absences this year are even higher. 

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to call for a better pay deal for teachers, backed by an independent review of their conditions and the demands placed upon them and a new package of measures to make teaching the valued and rewarding profession that it should be.” 

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