Teachers in Glasgow want to see a four-day week campaign amid growing concern over burnout.

The city’s Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) local association has approved a motion that urges unions and the Scottish Trades Union Congress to push for the change. It will be debated at the EIS annual general meeting, which begins tomorrow in Dundee.

The idea of a four-day week is growing in popularity, with supporters arguing it enables organisations to develop a sharper focus on worker output and productivity. Surveys also suggest many staff believe restructured hours would help alleviate stress and exhaustion, particularly following the outbreak of Covid-19.

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The Glasgow motion was intially lodged by Ella Van Loock, 38, who teaches English as an additional language at Annette Street Primary in Govanhill. She said: “I think a four-day week would reduce teacher stress levels and, given that other professions are going into pilot schemes, I think it’s something that we should be considering.

“I’m not sure how it would work exactly, although, given inflation rates, I would not want this to result in a reduction in teachers’ pay. I just think it’s an idea that should be on the table.

“It’s true that teachers get long holidays but our work during term is very intense and we don’t take care of ourselves as well as we should. A four-day week would help with that. I’ve been working a four-day week since January and so many colleagues I’ve spoken to said they would like to do the same.”

She added: "I don't only think this would be good for teachers but also would improve education for children and young people too. I have read and believe evidence that suggests that less class contact time in other countries has resulted in better attainment."

HeraldScotland: It is thought a four-day week could help improve the teaching and learning experience.It is thought a four-day week could help improve the teaching and learning experience.

Ms Van Loock’s motion comes after research published earlier this year revealed teachers wanted a shorter working week to prevent burnout and keep them in schools.

Almost three quarters of those polled in the UK study said they were “strongly” or “somewhat” supportive of moving to a 32-hour, four-day arrangement with no reduction in pay. Researchers stressed the figure north of the Border was even higher, at 79 per cent.

The findings were obtained by Survation and published in a report by independent think tank Autonomy. In total, more than 500 primary and secondary school staff took part in the survey. The Scottish sub-sample (29) was small. However, experts said trends here broadly mirrored those elsewhere in the UK.

At the time, Jack Kellam, Autonomy researcher and one of the report’s co-authors, urged Scottish policy makers to look at ways of shortening the school week. “Teachers in Scotland are suffering from a chronic crisis of overwork,” he said.

"Continually putting in some of the UK’s longest working hours, wellbeing levels in the profession are worryingly low. Over two-thirds of teachers have felt at ‘breaking point’ in the last year because of their job, with 28% in Scotland citing stress as a daily experience. Long hours make it difficult to hire and retain staff, and negatively affect the classroom experience.”

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Teachers who participated in the UK-level research think a restructured working week will have a range of positive effects. Nearly 70% said fewer hours would make them more likely to stay in their profession.

Staff are also keen to see the four-day week become part of a wider rebalancing of working time. This would involve a move away from meetings, general administration, and marking, and a greater focus on building student and family relationships, collaborating with colleagues, and professional development.