Scottish teachers vote overwhelmingly for industrial action over exams workload

Written by Tom Freeman on 16 June 2016 in News

EIS Teachers demand the Scottish Government takes a tougher approach with the SQA over assessment workloads in CfE

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Secondary teachers in the country’s biggest teaching union have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over the volume of workload in new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) exams.

After three weeks of balloting, members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) voted for industrial action by 95 per cent to five per cent.

The industrial action is not expected be an all-out strike but secondary teachers will refuse to do additional work set out by the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA).


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Union representatives has said extra work has been generated by “excessive demands” from the SQA around the new National 4 and 5 exams and the new Highers, introduced as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the result sent “a clear message” to education secretary John Swinney and the Scottish Government.

“It is not our intention that this action should impact directly on pupils, and teachers will continue to teach classes normally and to assess pupils’ work. We will be issuing guidance to our members advising which SQA-related activities they should withdraw cooperation from, and which activities teachers should continue to undertake as normal.”

Flanagan said members had told the EIS AGM last week they wanted the government to “hold the SQA to account” over assessment practices.

“In August 2014 the then Cabinet Secretary for Education, Michael Russell, in a foreword to a report on the first year of new qualifications acknowledged the excessive workload demands which had been placed on teachers and outlined a number of actions points, including the removal of duplication between Unit assessment and external exams. Two Cabinet Secretaries later, and two full school years on, not one single unit assessment has been removed. That is why EIS members have voted for action.”

The result came as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon clashed with Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during First Minister’s Questions.

“The Government has been very clear about our determination to take action to reduce teacher workload and we will continue to do that: indeed, that is why we established the working group on assessment and national qualifications,” Sturgeon said.

Davidson said: “I accept that teachers have every right to raise legitimate concerns about their workload, but I do not believe that industrial action is the answer. It is simply wrong that parents and pupils will have to pay the price for a dispute between teachers and the Government.”

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