Stress caused by excessive workloads has been blamed for a near 25% rise in teacher absences in Dundee.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of Scotland’s largest teaching union the EIS, said there is a “discernible trend” of rising absences amongst teaching staff across Scotland.
Figures obtained by The Courier under Freedom of Information legislation lay bare the rising number of absences through ill health taken by teachers in Dundee schools.
In 2012/13 the city had 1344 full-time equivalent teachers,who had 9059 absences due to ill health between them.
By 2016/17 the number of teachers in Dundee had actually fallen to 1299 but teachers had 11,302 absences.
This is the equivalent of eight absences per teacher per 195-day school year.
Mr Flanagan said: “Perhaps surprisingly, teacher absence rates usually compare favourably with other local government groups but notwithstanding that, there has been a discernible trend of an increase in absence rates, often linked to stress and a lack of well-being.
“This is undoubtedly linked to the ongoing pressure of excessive workload.
“A recent EIS survey indicated that 86% of respondents indicated that workload had increased in the past year.
“This was despite public statements from employers and from Scottish Government about the need to reduce excessive workload demands.
“Teachers need the promises of action to be put into practice.”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said the local authority is trying to assist teachers who may be suffering from stress before they need to take time off work.
He said: “The council monitors and reports absence information to senior managers and trade unions on a monthly basis.
“We are working proactively on a health and wellbeing approach collaboratively with the trade unions as part of the council’s ‘Our People Strategy’.
“Our occupational health provider is assisting with a greater emphasis on early intervention supports for staff.
“There are many differing reasons for absence but all managers are focused on bringing the absence figures down.”
Scottish Government education minister John Swinney said tackling teacher workload was one of his main priorities when he took over the education brief in 2016.
Industrial action threatened by the EIS was averted following a Scottish Government pledge to reduce teachers’ workload.
They removed mandatory unit assessments from National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Course.