The workload is unmanageable for half of secondary school teachers in Fife, according to a survey. 

And increasing incidents of pupil violence in the classroom is causing real fear.

Although the 2022 survey painted a “generally positive picture,” according to education staff, the lowest scoring issues from 2019 continue to be areas of concern. 

A report to Fife Council's education scrutiny committee on Tuesday said: “These included increasing, and, at times, unmanageable, workloads; communication at all levels; a feeling of being disconnected from those outwith the employee’s immediate team and increasing incidents of pupil violence and aggression against members of staff.

"All these areas were reported to have a detrimental impact on staff wellbeing." 

The survey results were discussed by the committee with officers presenting on the local authority’s education service staff wellbeing strategy.

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Sarah Neal said: “Staff are seeing increasingly unmanageable workloads, lack of communication at all levels, feelings of disconnect, and violence and aggression.

"The response seems to be more professional learning and strategies to deal with poor mental health and wellbeing. 

“To me if staff are saying that is the problem, the answer for me would be to reduce workloads, increase connection, address violence and aggression, and  increase communication at all levels. "However, the response seems to be ‘well we’re gonna help you better manage your mental health’ instead of dealing with the issue causing the problem.” 

Cllr Linda Erskine agreed: “The paper is a load of words, it doesn’t really get into the crux of what we need to do to make it better. 

“I worked in schools for years and it concerns me when I hear what teaching and support staff are going through at the moment.

"I know Covid is blamed for a lot, but this is where we as employers need to up our game.”

The committee was told there have been improvements across nine survey areas since 2019. However, there were concerns about the speed of progress.

Jane McKeown, from Fife EIS, said: “We’ve seen some numbers moving slightly in the right direction, but they are staying stubbornly low from (the union’s) point of view. 

“We look at the workload demands in the secondary sector and about half our staff think their workload is not manageable.

"If we don’t get a handle on these things it doesn’t matter how many wellbeing groups we have, it’s not going to solve the problem.” 

The survey details were not part of the scrutiny report, but Ms McKeown claimed that 30 per cent of Fife’s teachers “don’t think there’s a positive ethos within their school setting.”

Further, she said only 57 per cent of staff members responded to the survey. 

Education officers said Fife was dealing with problems head on through a number of strategies and reforms. 

“The work to improve our approaches to incidents of violence and aggression has been outlined in previous reports and will continue through the relationships and behaviour strategy group,” the report stated. 

“Appropriate professional learning for all staff, including our managers, also remains a priority.” 

Peer Support structures have also been piloted with small groups of staff with an aim to expand development in the future. 

Additionally, 89 of Fife’s 172 education settings have health and wellbeing representatives. 

Updates to the council’s strategy will focus on the mental health, physical wellbeing, relationships and behaviours and communication of education staff. 

The outcomes and progress of the updated strategy will be reported through annual review.