Scotland politics

EIS survey suggests teachers 'concerned' about National exams

A survey by Scotland's largest teaching union has suggested many of its members are not confident the new exam system can be implemented next year.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) surveyed 10,000 secondary teachers, of whom 2,700 responded.

Fewer than 5% of the respondents were "very confident" their department will be able to deliver the exams on time.

The Scottish government said only a small proportion of teachers took part in the survey.

New National 4 and 5 qualifications are being brought in to replace the current Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications from 2013-14.

The change is part of the Curriculum for Excellence, but the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association has already said it is "hugely concerned that things are not going to be ready in time" while East Renfrewshire Council has announced it will postpone the introduction by a year.

The EIS survey suggested only a small minority of respondents believe their departments will be ready to start teaching the courses next year - the government's preferred starting date.

It showed almost 80% felt that their workload increase has been "very high" or "high" due to implementation of the new curriculum, with well over 90% believing additional resources would be required to implement the senior phase of the curriculum in their school.

More than 70% of respondents were "barely confident" or "not confident at all" of their department's readiness to deliver the new qualifications on the current timescale.

And some 80% of respondents rated the Scottish government's support as "unsatisfactory".

The release of the survey comes ahead of a debate in Holyrood on the reforms.

Larry Flanagan, the union's education convener, said the survey was the largest ever carried out on the new curriculum among secondary teachers, and called for a one-year delay in the introduction of the new National exams.

He added: "The EIS has long argued that the current timetable for their introduction is too ambitious and that a one-year delay, or at the very least a school option for a one year delay, should be agreed to allow all teachers the time to become comfortable with the detail of the new exams.

"The overwhelming message from Scotland's secondary teachers is that currently they do not feel confident regarding their school's state of readiness to deliver the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence, particularly the new national qualifications, on the current timetable.

"Curriculum for Excellence is important and we wish to see it succeed but the results from the EIS survey clearly show more resources, and more time, are needed to support implementation."

Earlier this week, the Education Secretary Michael Russell announced the national body for education would carry out an audit to check how prepared schools are for the introduction of the new exams.

Education Scotland inspectors will visit every local authority to assess readiness over the next month.

Responding to the EIS survey, Mr Russell said: "Our position throughout the eight-year process of implementing Curriculum for Excellence, which has cross party support, has been to listen and work with teachers, schools, local authorities and unions. We continue to engage and listen.

"We are currently in discussion with the EIS on the specific points of concern raised including additional support and resource.

"Just over 2,000 teachers, from a total of 25,750 secondary teachers in Scotland answered this survey. The voice of any one teacher must be heard, however, we need to bear in mind that this survey represents eight per cent of the secondary school teacher workforce.

"An equally important number is the 54,000 pupils currently in S2 we should see through the advantages of Curriculum for Excellence who will take the new exams in 2013."

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