TEACHERS are calling for longer lunch breaks to reduce stress and restore the staffroom as the school “nerve-centre”.

Members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) want a return to a full hour for lunch, arguing shorter breaks don’t allow staff or pupils to recuperate.

Catherine Nicol, from the SSTA’s salaries and conditions of service committee, will raise the issue at the union’s annual congress in Crieff.

She said forty years ago most schools would have had at least a 60 minute lunch break.

But this had been reduced over the years to 40 minutes - or even 35 minutes in some secondaries - after cuts to support staff who would supervise pupils.

Ms Nicol said: “That means people don’t have time to have lunch and they don’t have time to go to the staffroom and speak to colleagues.

“People don’t realise, but the staffroom was once a place where you could catch up with colleagues, share family news, but also discuss what was happening in the classroom.

“That means we don’t have time to develop fully supportive relationships across the school where more experienced staff can pass on advice to younger colleagues.”

Ms Nicol said the strength of discussing issues in the staffroom was that it was done informally, without the sense teachers were being monitored or assessed.

She added: “Nowadays, staffrooms are not being being visited as much and people are dotted around the school in different departments so there is a fracture within the school.”

Ms Nicol said there was also a concern for pupils because they tended only to have enough time to snack on unhealthy foods rather than choosing a more nutritional meal from the school canteen.

Members of the SSTA will be asked to back a motion calling for councils to re-establish a 60 minute lunch break “as a measure to improve the working environment and health and well-being of teachers and pupils”.