Teachers report increase in workload

Written by Tom Freeman on 14 June 2017 in News

Attempts to address teacher workload may have made things worse, according to the EIS

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Attempts by Scottish Government and the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA) to reduce teacher workload have made it worse, according to a members’ survey by teaching union the EIS.

Eighty-six per cent of respondents reported their workload had increased in the last year, with 33 per cent reporting the increase had been significant.

This is despite numerous actions by the Scottish Government in the same period to cut teacher workload.


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Education Secretary John Swinney published “streamlined” curricular guidance for teachers last August and scrapped unit assessments in National 5 qualifications from this year.

The proposals, he said at the time, would “significantly reduce teacher workload, bureaucracy and over-assessment.”

However the results of the EIS survey published today suggested constant change in curriculum has added to the amount of preparatory work necessary for classes, while changes implemented by the SQA have generated as much work as they are supposed to remove.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The results of this survey highlight that teachers increasingly feel overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. Declining staff numbers, coupled with significant curricular and assessment changes, have led to substantial workload burdens being placed on staff.”

The report comes after teachers considered strike action over pay at the recent EIS conference.

Teacher pay has declined in real terms over the last decade, the union said, amid teacher shortages in many parts of the country.

This follows a strike by the union among college lecturers following a breakdown in talks with Colleges Scotland.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray said: “There are 4,000 fewer teachers than when the SNP came to power, while salaries have lost 16 per cent of their value in recent years.  No wonder teachers are now considering industrial action.”

Lib Dem education spokesman Tavish Scott accused Swinney of having “his head in the sand”, while “obsessing over a second divisive independence referendum”.

Green MSP Ross Greer meanwhile questioned the continuation of the one per cent public sector pay cap in light of UK inflation rising to 2.9 per cent.

“With inflation at a four-year high, the situation for teachers and other public servants is getting worse. This cannot be sustained,” he said.

Responding to the survey, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to freeing up teachers to do what they do best - teach.

“We have already acted to reduce teachers’ workload. As agreed with the EIS and others, we are removing mandatory unit assessments for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications. We have also issued a definitive statement that clearly sets out, for all teachers, what they should and should not be asked to do and reviewed demands placed on schools by local authorities in relation to Curriculum for Excellence.

“Teachers’ pay and conditions of service are matters for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT). Negotiations are currently ongoing and the Scottish Government will play its part in that process.”

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