Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed new documents that show the “sheer scale” of anxiety felt by vulnerable teachers, with some reporting that they were forced to leave the profession to protect their health.
Documents revealed through Freedom of Information legislation show the Scottish Government was inundated with concerns and complaints during the Autumn term, as teachers considered to be clinically vulnerable to coronavirus were forced to continue in-person teaching.
Almost a hundred pages worth of vulnerable teachers’ complaints were sent to the Scottish Government, showing many begging for better protection. These complaints include:
- A letter to the Education Secretary in which one teacher wrote “having tried every avenue available to me to protect my health and my family's health. I have been unsuccessful and therefore [sic] I have now resigned as a teacher but I would like to plead with you for the teachers I leave behind.”
- Another letter to the First Minister and the Education Secretary where a teacher reported living “in absolute fear” of the virus and that their mental health had “plummeted to horrific depths” and that they had become “almost suicidal” because they could not work from home.
- A teacher stating that “We are in deep crisis and it does seem to be that someone has to die before we will be heard.”
Commenting on the revelations, Ms Wishart said:
“As schools close their doors for summer after the most difficult year, teachers across Scotland will be looking forward to a well-deserved rest.
“But the scars from the way they have been treated are not going to heal easily. These new documents show the unimaginable pressure that they were placed under. The sheer scale of anxiety on display is shocking.
“Many had to choose between their health security and their job security. I, and others challenged the Education Secretary on this in Parliament. But the Scottish Government appeared pitiless, dug their heels in and refused to admit the problem.
“At the same time, these documents show that Ministers were being given direct accounts of the dangers and risks vulnerable teachers were experiencing. It seems they too were completely ignored.
“Recovery in education will need every teaching talent available. But they have not been treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Now, some have left the profession because of the shoddy treatment at the hands of the Scottish Government.
“From this side-lining of vulnerable teachers concerns to the creeping casualisation of teachers’ contracts, the foundations have been laid for a workforce planning disaster. Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see a full review of teachers’ terms and conditions to make sure they are given the support they need and help keep the profession going.”