Scotland’s teachers begin industrial action over workload

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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Secondary school teachers are to begin industrial action over ‘’excessive workloads’’ after nine out of 10 union members backed the move.

The action by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), which represents around a third of secondary teachers, gets under way on Monday.

The move follows a ballot in which 91% of members who voted backed industrial action short of a strike.

The EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, suspended its programme of industrial action on teacher workload after the Scottish Government announced that assessments included in some exams are being scrapped.

Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed mandatory unit assessments will be removed from both National 5 and Higher exams, with pupils’ grades instead determined by final exams and coursework.

SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson said: “The SSTA welcomed the Deputy First Minister’s announcement that unit assessments are to be removed from National 5 in 2017-2018.

“Unfortunately, there has not been any progress on the situation in regard to National 4 and no reduction in workload pressure for both pupils and teachers in the current session.”

President Euan Duncan added: “The SSTA’s view is that teacher workload has not, and is unlikely to be, significantly reduced in the current session, especially in the area of national qualifications.

“We therefore have no option but to move into industrial action to protect another cohort of young people and our members.

“SSTA members care passionately about the young people they teach and getting the best qualifications. However, the pressure and stress suffered by both young people and teachers cannot be allowed to continue. We hope the Deputy First Minister can work with the SSTA to find a way forward and put measures in place to help the situation.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the removal of mandatory unit assessments would “significantly reduce” the workload of teachers.

He said: “It is disappointing that SSTA have decided to commence industrial action, especially at a time when EIS have suspended action in recognition of the work we are doing to ease the burden on teachers.

“Over the past few months, the Scottish Government has listened carefully to what teachers, parents, young people and others have had to say on workload, and have responded positively with a range of actions to help reduce workload pressures.

“We have also taken swift action in response to feedback from teachers and others, to de-clutter the curriculum guidance and review the workload demands placed on teachers by local authorities.

“As these measures bed in, we ask teachers to continue to work with us to ensure that together we can create more time to teach our young people, and help contribute to closing the attainment gap.”

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