An army of more than 250 teachers have left the profession in Aberdeen in the last year – as bullying and grievance complaints hit a three-year high.
City council chiefs are battling to fill 83 vacant posts after 251 full and part-time teachers quit education altogether to seek other jobs.
And new figures have revealed that some 38 grievance or bullying complaints have been raised this year – the highest since 2013/14.
The data, obtained through freedom of information legisliation, shows that more than 2,000 teachers have quit in Aberdeen since 2010.
Last night a spokeswoman from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union said that teachers needed a pay raise to encourage more to stay in the profession.
She said: “The EIS believes that this difficulty is linked to comparatively low pay in teaching, compared to other graduate professions, lack of career progression opportunities and the excessive workload demands that continue to be placed on teachers.
“A concerted and coordinated approach will be required to resolve this issue – this will require additional action to reduce excessive levels of teacher workload and a firm commitment from local authorities and the Scottish Government to improve teachers’ pay which has been declining, in real terms, for more than a decade. Significant investment in teacher salaries is required to make teaching an attractive career option.”
But Tom Mason, Conservative MSP for the north- east, said that the resignations could be due to classroom bureaucracy, such as the Named Person scheme and demands under the Curriculum for Excellence.
He said: “Our teachers are under a tremendous amount of pressure, with an ever-increasing level of paperwork to deal with due to the demands of the Curriculum for Excellence.
“Ministers must also ensure there is not undue pressure put on those who are working in our classrooms.
“A reduction in the level of bureaucracy within the system would be a good start. Abandoning the ill-conceived Named Person legislation would also remove another layer of responsibility that is being heaped upon our head teachers under plans from this government.”
Aberdeenshire East SNP MSP Gillian Martin, who sits on Holyrood’s education committee and whose husband is a teacher, said: “Work-related stress is a significant issue for many in front facing organisations- none more so that education.
“This is one of the many reasons that the Scottish Government is conducting a governance review and has committed to reducing unnecessary bureaucracy which is has had an effect on teacher workload.
“Reducing the guidance given out by Education Scotland is key to this, as is changing the culture around inspections to be focussed on teaching and learning support rather than criticism.”
But a council spokesman said the number of vacancies had fallen and they were continuing to tackle the teacher shortage.
He added: “The steady improvement in teacher vacancy figures reflect the hard work being done to enhance recruitment, with a number of initiatives in place to expand our reach and also to ensure Aberdeen City Council represents an attractive proposition for prospective applicants.
“We acknowledge there remains work to be done but it is certainly encouraging to see the vacancy numbers falling.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we recognise some areas have faced challenges filling vacancies.
“This is why we have invested £88 million in 2017, resulting in 543 more teachers than last year – the second year in a row that there’s been an increase in teacher numbers.
“We reached an agreement on a pay deal this week that demonstrates the benefit of government, employers and unions working together through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.
“As announced in the draft budget, we will provide an additional £24 million through the local government settlement to make this deal happen, so every school can access the right number of teachers.
“We have also taken decisive action to help recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign, focussing specifically on attracting new teachers and career changers into STEM and other subjects.
“We are committed to reducing teacher workload and have undertaken a range of actions to achieve this. Continued engagement with the profession will play a critical role in making this happen.”