New curriculum workload 'too high', EIS union survey warns

The survey raised concerns about staff being diverted from time to teach

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More than 80% of nursery and primary school teachers in Scotland have warned of high workloads as a result of the new curriculum, a union has claimed.

An Educational Institute of Scotland poll also suggests half of teachers had little confidence in new assessments.

Union president Susan Quinn said teachers spent too much time "jumping through hoops of red-tape".

The Scottish government said the system was not overly complex, but said it was taking staff concerns seriously.

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the national curriculum for Scottish schools for students aged three to 18. It began to be phased in to schools in 2010.

'Impact on teaching'

The survey by Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, asked about 4,000 teachers - mainly nursery and primary teachers - for their experience of moving to the new curriculum.

Results showed that more than 80% thought the increase in workload was "high" or "very high".

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The Scottish government takes support for teachers very seriously and continues to work with teachers' representatives”

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More than half were "barely confident" or "not confident at all" about assessments associated with the system.

And almost two-thirds described a tick-box approach to measuring progress as "unhelpful" or "not useful at all".

Ms Quinn, who is also a primary school headteacher, said: "It was interesting to note just last week that the head of Education Scotland's team of school inspectors was critical of growing levels of bureaucratic red-tape and paperwork imposed on teachers in the name of CfE.

"Clearly, this is not what CfE is supposed to be about, and the heavy levels of recording and reporting being demanded in some local authorities are having an impact on the time available for learning and teaching.

"The increasing workload demands being placed on teachers in all sectors is an issue of major concern for the EIS, as such increases are bad for both teachers and pupils."

She said the EIS was launching a campaign to address the issue of growing teacher workloads.

Teachers said they were spending more and more time on paperwork and administration.

Almost half of respondents thought the amount of forward planning in schools was "excessive".

'Red flag'

One commented: "Lack of clarity all round, leading to different new approaches being tried, then abandoned. Far too much recording of unnecessary/irrelevant outcomes - many unsuitable for nursery."

Concerns were also highlighted that more than half of teachers asked thought that "profiling" of P7 pupils - which is designed to help children in their transition to secondary school - was "not very useful".

Education Secretary Michael Russell told BBC Radio Scotland there is a need to reduce the bureaucracy that exists in some places.

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "I think the Curriculum for Excellence provides a considerable challenge and has done during its implementation and that's why the Scottish government and a number of other bodies have supported teachers wholeheartedly with resources, with money and with time, and are going to go on doing so.

"I agree, and I know the inspectorate agrees, that there is no place in CfE for the excessive bureaucracy that we are seeing in one or two places. That's why Education Scotland and myself have indicated that we want to see action taken to get rid of that bureaucracy.

"Curriculum for Excellence is about freeing teachers to teach and that's what we should be doing and the time to do that will be created if we reduce some of the bureaucracy which is completely unnecessary."

A Scottish government said it had made more than £10.4m available to local authorities since 2010 to support teachers in sharing, understanding and applying standards, with a further £3.762m provided this year and more funding due next year.

Scottish Labour spokesman for children and young people Neil Bibby said the survey should act as a "red flag" to the government.

"The people dealing with children in classrooms every day are telling their union that workloads are unsustainable and it's time the Scottish government listened and provided the help and guidance that teachers want," he said.

"It is especially worrying that we have nursery and primary teachers expressing their concerns, when they have been considered to be more in sync with curriculum for excellence."

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