Education bosses in Fife say they are firmly behind teachers at Woodmill High School amid suggestions dealing with the aftermath of August’s devastating fire had pushed some to breaking point.
The region’s largest teaching union, Fife EIS, fears many of its members are “running on empty” in the wake of the August 25 fire, which destroyed parts of the Dunfermline school and resulted in 1,400 pupils being taught at different sites across west Fife.
EIS Fife president Wilma Pirie said members can only operate this way in the short-term without serious impact and the union has organised an October session on stress reduction, as a result of concerns.
However, Carrie Lindsay, executive director for education at Fife Council, said the local authority is doing what it can to support employees who have been excellent in maintaining pupils’ education in the wake of adversity.
Mrs Pirie has highlighted staff are struggling to get sufficient breaks as they try to get between sites for lessons.
The union has also raised concerns over the Department for Additional Support unit currently accommodated at Blairhall Primary, where staff have said there is no area where teachers can work to plan lessons.
“The management and education service have tried to do as much as they can to mitigate the level of stress but by the very nature of Woodmill staff having to go to different sites to teach, stress levels are very high.
“A lot of teachers are running on empty.
“It is an extraordinary circumstance and in the short term members are being very accommodating but there has to be more of a measured plan in the long term.
“If people are feeling stressed and anxious now we are aware there has to be a real effort to sort out the timetable.
“Teachers need breaks and it could quickly turn into a worrying situation.”
She added that staff had been “resilient and resourceful” and had pulled together to look after the best interests of children.
“Some of them have lost 20 years’ worth of teaching resources so it’s going to be difficult and there is going to be pressure trying to find things to have to hand.
“I am proud but I’m not surprised by their professionalism.”
Ms Pirie said: “We understand and fully appreciate the hard work and dedication of our teaching staff at Woodmill, and across Fife.
“The wellbeing of our staff is very important and educational psychologists will be attending the upcoming in-service day for Woodmill teachers, which is being used as an opportunity to focus on staff mental health and wellbeing.
“Fife Council’s Our Minds Matter mental and emotional wellbeing framework also extends to all 3,800 teachers in Fife, and Fife Council has won a Gold Healthy Working Lives award which has endorsed the supportive measures in place for staff.”