Herald ‘writer’ fails two tests in one headline about teachers who seem less stressed than many of the rest of you
You’ll have guessed, I’m sure that ‘nearly half of teachers’ is not remotely true and putting speech marks around the whole headline would make it more accurate but still useless.
The Herald piece opens with:
‘Nearly half of Scottish teachers have seen a medical professional in the last year as a result of stress and workload, according to a survey. A poll by the NASUWT teaching union also found one in ten teachers had been prescribed anti-depressants to help them cope, while seven per cent have increased their reliance on prescription drugs.’
I’ll come to the ‘nearly half’ claim but I was immediately struck by the NASUWT (Mainly English members?) claim of ‘one in ten.’ In 2018, research for the Guardian suggested that ‘1 in 6 people have been prescribed anti-depressants.’
‘Teachers much less likely to be stressed than average person!’
As for the ‘nearly half’, once more it’s a tiny self-selecting sample:
‘Nearly half (46%) experienced anxiety, depression or stress’
That ‘or stress’ bit throws the whole assertion into doubt, without even seeing the question asked, as to its seriousness. Doesn’t every employee feel some stress? Are there jobs with no stress at all? Not unless you’re a psychopath.
The NASUWT has around 300 000 members across the UK. 5 000 responded. So, we have a typically unreliable self-selecting sample heavily biased in favour of those who do feel anxiety, depression or stress. So, 1.66% responded and 46% of them experienced anxiety, depression or stress’ giving us 0.76%. Statistically this is just useless on both sampling validity and size.
Further evidence putting teacher anxiety, depression and stress can be found here:
On the basis of the above, teaching professionals have only a slightly higher (15%) prevalence than the average (13%) but this is lower than for several others. Notably, the study also found lack of job security, to be a major factor, regardless of occupational role. This is of course not a common risk factor among teachers, in comparison to many other occupations.
Useful evidence for the specifically Scottish context is below:
SHOCK: Scotland has 35% more teachers per capita than Tory England and 46% more than Labour Wales!
As the Scottish NoMedia are fed on imagined subject shortages, we see the remarkable facts on the somewhat more important matter of how many teachers we actually have to teach those subjects properly and in manageable class sizes. These data…
27% fewer Scottish teachers applying for retirement due to ill-health
In a Freedom of Information request from an anonymous source: https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-19-00473/ Could the source have been hoping for a trend going the other way? Regardless of the Scottish Labour Branch led EIS action, the above data merely confirms a wide…
New Scottish teachers 8 times more likely to stay than those in Tory England
In the Independent today: ‘Nearly three in five teachers in only their first year in the profession are already not convinced that they will stay in teaching – and rising mental health problems are partly to blame, research finds. The…
Scotland has far fewer pupils for every teacher
Once more we’re grateful to a Tory MSP, trawling for bad news with a parliamentary question, but stumbling on good news we can report. See this from Tom Mason (Tory MSP) with reply from SNP minister John Swinney
The Herald has this story on its front page today. This is the 3rd time in recent weeks that it has lead with surveys conducted by NEU or NASUWT and framed the articles to make it seem that the results are based on responses from Scotland or apply to Scotland.
Presumably when these unions carried out their self selecting surveys the responses did contain a subset from Scotland but no mention of whether this was the case.
No mention either of how many members these unions have in Scotland. Are they major players in Scotland?
No mention either that the overall results may not be applicable to Scottish teachers because they are working in a different educational system to that pertaining in England where the system is becoming increasingly fragmented – Academies, free schools, council maintained schools – and thus subject to a whole different raft of pressures.
LikeLiked by 4 people
Herald on-line has this story about the NASUWT survey but strangely it does not seem to be open for comments. The union is holding a conference in Glasgow this weekend apparently
LikeLiked by 2 people
Legerwood, You are correct to set out the context. The NASUWT represents less than 5% of teachers in Scotland and, most of these are in secondary schools. Rarely, is there a secondary school with more than 2/3 members and often, there are none.
This is propaganda journalism specifically designed to mislead.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Alasdair MacDonald, absolutely right. And isn’t it surprising (sarcasm alert) that the media continue to employ people who specialise in important areas of Scottish life – like education – but never really seem to bother questioning what they’re told?