Scotland

EIS teachers union industrial action threat over exams

school exam Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The EIS says secondary school staff have been put under increased pressure because of the new qualifications system

Scotland's largest teaching union plans to ballot its members on industrial action over new school qualifications.

The Educational Institute of Scotland said an expert group review had not gone far enough to address concerns.

The group was set up by the Scottish government in January to look at ways of reducing workload in the wake of Curriculum for Excellence changes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to work with teachers to provide the best education for young people.

A survey of EIS members last year suggested more than 93% of members were willing to take some kind of action over "excessive and unsustainable" workloads.

But the EIS agreed to put its threat of industrial action on hold while the working group looked at what could be done.

Any action would stop short of a strike but would see teachers "working to contract" by boycotting any additional work and assessment related to the new qualifications, the union said.

Workload reduction

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Our members are clear that a significant reduction must be achieved in both the workload burden associated with the new qualifications and also the excessive level of unit assessment, which impacts on both students and staff.

"Following the Scottish government's decision to establish the review group earlier this year, the EIS decided to suspend any move towards industrial action while the group carried out its work.

"We entered into the work of the review in good faith, and worked constructively to attempt to agree a set of measures that would alleviate teachers' concerns on workload.

"However, while some positive changes have been agreed by the group, the EIS believes that the final recommendations will not deliver the reduction in workload - particularly the workload associated with the marking of unit assessments - that our members are demanding."

Mr Flanagan said the EIS executive believed the working group's recommendations fell "far short" of an acceptable solution.

"For this reason, the executive has now agreed to proceed with the previously postponed industrial action ballot," he added.

Asked about the industrial action threat, Ms Sturgeon said: "We will continue to work with teachers to make sure we are providing the best education for our young people in our schools but also that we are supporting teachers to do that.

"I think we've demonstrated in our time in government that we work with our teaching profession to support them and we will continue to do that."

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