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School and nursery staff took 1m days off due to mental health in five years

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School and nursery staff took 1m days off due to mental health in five years

Staff in Scotland’s schools and nurseries have taken more than a million days off for mental health reasons in the last five years, “alarming” figures show.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats used freedom of information legislation to obtain data on time off taken by staff in schools and council-run nurseries from 2018-19 to 2022-23.

Twenty-seven of the country’s 32 councils provided figures, which cover teachers, support staff and nursery workers, and they show a total of 1,061,210 days were lost due to mental ill health over the period.

That equates to 2,907 years, the Lib Dems calculated.

The figures also show an increasing number of days off were taken because of mental health issues, with this going from 172,690 in 2018-19 to 271,427 in 2022-23 – a rise of 57%.

Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s largest local authority, had the highest number of days lost last year – 37,474 – followed by Inverclyde with 28,091 days and North Lanarkshire with 19,343.

Lib Dem education spokesman Willie Rennie claimed “mismanaging” by the Scottish Government is part of the problem, adding there is “next to no support” for staff in schools.

Mr Rennie said: “These alarming figures expose the devastating toll of mental health absences across our schools and nurseries.

“From early years to exam years, the SNP have persisted in mismanaging Scotland’s education system.

“By offering next to no support for staff, they have caused learning environments to turn into pressure-cookers, all while the attainment gap remains as wide as ever.

“It’s time to stop asking our education staff to perform miracles and finally give them the support and resources they need to deliver the very best for children.

“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats would invest in education. As well as giving teachers and staff the resources and support that they need, we would enhance pupil equity funding and ensure teachers are given proper stable contracts.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is vital that that the staff at our schools and nurseries are able to access the right support they need when carrying out their important duties.

“Since October 2020, the Scottish Government has allocated over £2 million to specifically support the wellbeing of the education workforce.

“An additional £200,000 this year is also supporting wellbeing coaching for staff working in schools and early learning and childcare.

“Earlier this week, the Mental Wellbeing Minister announced a new online resource for childcare professionals, which offers useful resources and materials aimed at managing their wellbeing.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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