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Teachers in Scotland should have access to professional support to help them process the increasingly complex and stressful demands associated with managing the welfare of children and young people, members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, will argue today (Saturday).

Despite being expected to become increasing involved and responsible for supporting the daily lives of children and young people, teachers, unlike colleagues in social care and educational psychology, do not have any automatic access to programmes of structured professional support and supervision.

NASUWT members will call for a national programme of regular, structured, professional support for teachers at the Union’s Scotland Annual Conference, which will be held virtually today (Saturday).

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“The demands and responsibilities on teachers to manage pupils’ welfare, safety and emotional health are continuing to multiply.

“Teachers take these responsibilities very seriously and care greatly about the pupils they teach. However, their own needs can often go unnoticed and unmet, leading to burnout, stress and anxiety.

“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, said:

“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.

“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 increasing 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.”

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