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Teachers ‘morally blackmailed’ into excessive hours, union says

TEACHERS across Scotland are being “morally blackmailed” into “toxic” levels of unpaid work, a teaching union has warned.

Using his address to the annual conference of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) today, the union’s president Stuart Hunter told delegates:  “I am certain that many, if not all of you, recognise the sources of work that increase our workload from normal to excessive or toxic.

“We have created a culture whereby teachers cannot say ‘no’ because it will not look good for them, after all, ‘it’s for the sake of the kids.’

“We have been conditioned over the years by moral blackmail to take on more and more work.

“Why do we allow ourselves to be emotionally blackmailed to the point we damage our own mental health to do the job we love: to making a positive difference through education to the lives of every student we teach.”

Speaking in Glasgow, where the council is slashing 450 teaching posts over the next three years, Mr Hunter went on to argue that in place of support to aid educators in effectively carrying out the roles of now missing “social workers and educational psychologists,” a “programme of systematic budget cuts” was being used as a “political weapon” to subdue dissent.

The NASUWT — also holding its own online Scottish conference this weekend — focused on the pressures brought by what it terms an “escalating crisis in violence and abuse from pupils in schools.”

It also echoed the SSTA’s calls for more support to be put in place to enable teachers to teach.

The union’s Scotland official, Mike Corbett, commented: “While it is clear much more needs to be done to tackle the root causes of the upsurge in violence, abuse and poor behaviour, immediate action can and should be taken to address its effects in our schools.

“In the past fortnight there have been two serious weapon attacks by pupils on staff and fellow pupils on school premises in the UK.

“Teachers are not being hyperbolic when they say they fear for their safety and feel the Scottish government is currently not doing all it could to protect them.”

The Scottish government said: “It is vital that school staff are able to access any well-being support they might need.

“Since October 2020, we have allocated over £2 million to specifically support the well-being of the education workforce.”

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