From Reporting Scotland yesterday:
‘School staff in Scotland missed almost 400 000 workdays for mental health reasons in the last 3 years according to a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Lib Dems.’
The Daily Telegraph picked up on the story and in so doing revealed a wee problem:
‘The Scottish Liberal Democrats disclosed official figures showing almost 400,000 days have been lost over the past three years for reasons including stress and depression. The number of days teachers have been absent with mental health issues has increased 15 per cent, from 75,281 in 2015/16 to 87,066 in 2017/18.’
See it? Only ‘75,281 in 2015/16 to 87,066 in 2017/18’ with presumably something around 80 000 in the intervening year, 2016/17? This would give us a total of around only 240 000.
So, how did they, with BBC Scotland in dopey tow, get to 400 000 days lost over three years for mental health reasons?
They added in the days when teachers reported ‘depression’ rather than ‘stress’ and, of course, went for the bigger three-year total to better inform (scare?) their audience.
Note: I haven’t seen the data so must trust that they did not double count in cases where stress and depression were reported by an individual reporting absence. Can I trust the Lib Dems any more than Labour to get it right? I’m not so sure.
However, that must be around 160 00 days lost, over the three years, or 54 000 per year, due to depression, on top of the 240 000 lost over three years or 80 000 per year due to stress?
How does this look in percentage terms?
There are 51 513 teacher FTEs in Scotland. Scottish teachers are contracted to work 195 days per year so the 51 thousand do around 10 million days each year.
Only around 54 thousand days are lost to depression each year. That means that only 0.54% of the total days worked by all teachers are lost to depression.
When we add the stress plus depression figures back together, to 134 000 per year, even this represents only 1.34% of the total.
Finally, apparently forgotten already, BBC Scotland themselves had reported developments suggesting greater cause for optimism as recently as 10th December 2018:
Scottish teacher training numbers increase
Nice, accurate, restrained and professional but wait, what is this?
About 85% of the places available in secondary teacher training this year were taken up compared with 70% in 2017
The number of people in teacher training in Scotland has gone up for the third year running, according to new figures.
There are nearly 4,000 new student teachers in Scotland this year.
The Scottish government also said the number of vacancies being advertised for more than three months had fallen sharply.
The latest Scottish government figures show the number of posts in secondary schools advertised for more than three months fell from 229 last year to 148 this year.
Despite the drop, that figure is still significantly higher than in 2016, when only 75 posts remained unfilled for more than three months.
The number of pre-school and primary vacancies advertised for three months dropped from 136 to 49
The number of pre-school and primary vacancies advertised for more than three months also dropped – from 136 last year to 49 this year. Again, the figure was still higher than the 33 recorded in 2016.
The Scottish government statistics also show:
- Student teacher intake increased for three years in a row, reaching 3,902 in 2018 compared to 3,376 in 2015-16
- Growth in teacher numbers across all STEM subjects (Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics)
- Student primary teacher intake rose to 2,082 and exceeded targets for 2018
- 1,494 student teachers will start at secondary level, up from 1,226 in 2017