Teachers and leaders split over the solution to the staffing crisis

Primary teachers reject leaders’ plan to axe non-contact time and increase their hours

A far-reaching survey has revealed a schism between primary teachers and their promoted colleagues over how to solve the staffing crisis in Scotland’s schools.

The poll – organised by the school leaders’ body AHDS and shared exclusively with TES Scotland – gives a rare glimpse into the collective mood of the profession, laying bare the extreme pressure on schools through 2,511 often-detailed responses.

There is a common feeling of despondency resulting from the belief that teachers are “drowning” under workload and a “never-ending stream of new initiatives”, and that schools have been hamstrung by the decline of the supply workforce.

The survey – completed by 644 promoted teachers and 1,600 classroom teachers, and including 267 responses from other staff – asked whether participants backed an AHDS idea that would change the contracted working conditions of all teachers.

The controversial proposal would involve teachers’ non-contact time being removed, and working hours being increased by 2.5 hours a week, but with a corresponding pay rise.

Teachers ‘divided’

Most promoted teachers were in favour of the proposal, with 66 per cent for and 22 per cent against. But only 17 per cent of class teachers backed the idea, with 65 per cent saying that they were against it.

Greg Dempster, AHDS general secretary, insisted that responses to a second question showed that attitudes were actually less clear-cut. It asked whether individual teachers should be able to choose whether to give up non-contact time and increase their hours and pay.

Of the promoted staff questioned, 32 per cent were in favour and 60 per cent were against. Class teachers were split down the middle.

This is an edited version of an article in the 6 May edition of TESS. Subscribers can view the full story here. This week’s TESS magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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