Teachers in Scotland should have access to professional support to help them manage the increasingly complex and stressful demands of the job, it has been suggested.
The call was made by NASUWT, the Teacher’s Union, ahead of its annual conference on Saturday.
It warned that teachers, unlike colleagues in social care and education psychology, do not have automatic access to programmes of structured professional support and supervision.
This is despite expectations for teachers to be increasingly involved in and responsible for supporting the daily lives of children and young people, the union said.
At its annual conference, NASUWT will propose a national programme of regular, structured and professional support for teachers.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, explained that the needs of teachers are often going unmet, which has led to many feeling burned out, stressed or struggling with anxiety.
“The demands and responsibilities on teachers to manage pupils’ welfare, safety and emotional health are continuing to multiply,” he said.
“Teachers take these responsibilities very seriously and care greatly about the pupils they teach.
“Teachers’ wellbeing must be given higher priority in order that they are in the best position to be able to help pupils.
“The provision of professional support and also counselling, where appropriate, would be recognition of the vital role teachers play in safeguarding and supporting pupils and would be an investment in both the welfare of teachers and pupils.”
Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland national official, insisted that appropriate resources are “essential” for teachers.
“Increasing numbers of teachers report that they are experiencing debilitating levels of stress and anxiety and are being forced to seek out medication and counselling as a result of the pressures of the job,” he said.
“Access for all teachers to regular opportunities to discuss the challenges they face would help to alleviate some of the emotional burden which comes with the job and help prevent teachers becoming ill or leaving the profession because of the stresses they face.
“Appropriate resources are essential, including time for teachers to access such discussions, while it is vital that these are safe spaces, especially for those whose own experiences of prejudice and discrimination may have been triggered by their efforts to support pupils.
“Teaching is an increasingly complex job and yet the structures in place to support teachers have not kept up with the changing nature of the demands of teaching.
“It is time for recognition of the unique challenges of the job and for the associated professional support for teachers to help manage those pressures.”