Teachers are choosing to move into new careers due to the levels of stress they are facing in Dundee’s schools, it has been claimed.
More than 7,800 teaching days have been lost due to staff absences through stress in the city over the last five years.
The number of days lost rose by 78% between 2013/14 and 2016/17.
Although the figure then dropped for 2017/18, it was still the second-highest in that period, with nearly 1,700 days lost.
The head of a teaching union says staff are facing growing workloads – which are eventually forcing them to take on less stressful jobs in other industries for similar pay.
David Baxter, local representative for the EIS teaching union, said: “Changes brought in by the Scottish Government and the staff retention crisis are contributing factors to the number of stress days taken.
“What you see across the country is a lack of people taking up teaching as a career and a lot of people dropping out.
“It is a highly-trained graduate profession and graduates can find higher-paid jobs elsewhere.
“Why stick about in teaching if you can get paid the same or more in a different job with a low-stress environment?”
Mr Baxter said the issue is exacerbated by a lack of supply teachers to cover maternity and sick leave.
He added: “The work is still there and just gets spread out among the rest of the staff.
“There are not enough bodies on the ground to get the job done. Teachers are contracted to a 35-hour week but are working 11.5 hours more on top of that.
“Teachers’ pay has also diminished by 20% in the last decade. It’s a profession desperately trying to keep its head above water.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said absence information is closely monitored and reported to senior management and trade unions on a monthly basis.
He said: “We have an agreed health and wellbeing framework which has been developed with the trade unions and forms part of the council’s Our People Strategy.
“Our occupational health provider is assisting with a greater emphasis on early intervention supports for staff, and in recent months there has been a more positive trend in the teaching workforce absence statistics.”
The spokesman added: “There are many differing reasons for the causes of stress and for absence.
“All managers, including head teachers, are focused on attendance management as a priority.”
The Scottish Government insists it has taken action to reduce teacher workloads by “clarifying and simplifying the curriculum framework and removing unnecessary bureaucracy”.
A spokesman said: “We continue to provide funding of £88 million per year to support councils to maintain teacher numbers.
“This resulted in 543 more teachers in 2017 than the previous year – the second consecutive year teacher numbers increased.
“Our ambitious reform agenda is helping to make teaching an attractive career choice, backed by newly created routes into teaching and £20,000 bursaries for career changers.”
A study released by the Mental Health Foundation found large numbers of teachers believed pressures of the job had led them to experience psychological and emotional distress, while more than half said their job had made an existing mental health problem worse.