Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has today attributed rising mental health absences among staff at Scottish schools to the SNP’s “baffling” handling of education as he revealed that almost 400,000 school staff days have been lost for mental health reasons in the past three years.
Figures from 29 out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, uncovered by Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information legislation, reveal:
• 395,330 teacher and support staff days have been lost for mental health reasons since 2015/16.
• Teaching staff absences have risen from 75,281 days in 2015/16 to 87,066 days in 2017/18.
• Support staff absences have risen from 43,307 days in 2015/16 to 58,300 days in 2017/18.
• Glasgow had the largest number of staff days lost in 2017/18 with 16,127 days lost, followed by Fife on 12,127 and Highland on 11,781.
Commenting on the figures, Mr Scott said:
“These figures show that since 2015/16, almost 400,000 staff days have been lost for mental health reasons. Year after year the number lost has risen.
“The pressure on classroom teachers is obvious. Teaching unions are worried by falling teacher morale, the top-down approach to education by central government and the impact of testing regimes on classrooms. This pressure has to be a factor in the growing number of absences caused by mental ill health.
“In 2019, the Scottish Government must turn over a new leaf and work to reduce the pressure on Scotland’s overworked school staff.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to demand better for our schools. That’s why we are calling 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.”