Mike Russell says schools must cut red tape

Mike Russell has warned schools over red tape. Picture: Jane Barlow
Mike Russell has warned schools over red tape. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Councils and head teachers must stop attaching unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy to the Scottish Government’s education reforms, according to the Education Secretary.

Schools are taking an overly bureaucratic approach to the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), Mike Russell will tell delegates at the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) conference tomorrow.

An EIS poll last month found that 80% of respondents described the increase in their workload as a result of CfE as either high or very high, while less than half were confident about the forms of assessment associated with CfE.

Mr Russell said CfE is designed to bring “clarity” and that schools, head teachers and councils should not surround this with “a smokescreen of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork”.

School inspectors will be tasked with eliminating excessive planning, recording and reporting practices.

The EIS has welcomed inspectors’ new focus on “tackling unnecessary local authority bureaucracy”.

Concerns

Speaking before the conference, Mr Russell said: “Two weeks ago the EIS survey on primary education highlighted some legitimate concerns about teacher workload. I have been very clear in my response to those concerns.

“It is utterly unacceptable that any school, head teacher or local authority should be able to surround the clarity of CfE with a smokescreen of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork. That needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

“CfE is about giving teachers greater scope for professional decision making and ensuring are young people are fit to succeed in whatever destination they move to after school.

“Teachers must be free to do what they do best and develop their skills to deliver learning at its best. It must not be about constant form filling and supervision.”

Education Scotland director of inspection Ken Muir said: “Education Scotland is intent on ensuring that teachers’ planning, recording and reporting are as streamlined and effective as possible.

Excessive

“Our recently published CfE briefing on planning emphasises that where these processes are cumbersome and time-consuming, time to prepare for teaching and learning is lost.

“In a number of recent inspection reports, HM Inspectors from Education Scotland have been critical of overly bureaucratic approaches, and will do so in the future where such approaches are found.

“Our forthcoming inspection guidance will make clear that the delivery of high-quality learning should not be impaired by excessive time spent on planning, recording and reporting.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The significant increase in workload, particularly bureaucratic paperwork, associated with CfE was one of the main issues highlighted in the two recent EIS national CfE surveys.

Workload

“Workload will also be one of the key issues to be debated at this year’s AGM, and is the focus of a major new EIS campaign.

“It is encouraging that we are hearing positive messages from both the cabinet secretary and Education Scotland about the importance of reducing unnecessary administrative workload, in order to free up teachers to teach.

“While many teachers will not automatically associate a visit from the inspectors as something that will lower workload, it is encouraging that tackling unnecessary local authority bureaucracy will be a focus for inspectors in the future.”