Teachers back industrial action in workload dispute

Teachers vote in favour of industrial action.
Teachers vote in favour of industrial action.
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Teachers in Scotland are to stage industrial action amid growing concerns over mounting workloads in relation to exams.

Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney both hit out at the move yesterday insisting it would not be in the interests of youngsters.

It is not our intention that this action should impact directly on pupils, and teachers will continue to teach classes normally and to assess pupils’ work

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary

But the EIS teaching union says it has been warning about the problems for two years and not seen any ­significant change. Teachers will now “withdraw co-­operation” from some work with the ­Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) after a ballot of members produced a 95 per cent vote in favour of action. The action won’t involve any strikes.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “This ballot result reflects the frustration of Scotland’s secondary teachers over the excessive assessment demands being placed on them and their pupils, ­particularly around unit assessments at National 5 and Higher; and the EIS now has a very clear mandate to implement an immediate work-to-contract in relation to SQA activity.”

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He stressed: “It is not our intention that this action should impact directly on pupils, and teachers will continue to teach classes normally and to assess pupils’ work.

“We will be issuing guidance to our members advising which SQA-related activities they should withdraw co-operation from and which activities teachers should continue to undertake as normal.”

It comes after teachers at the EIS annual general meeting last week spoke of the “desperate need” for the Scottish Government to press the SQA for changes to the assessment practices “in order to lighten the excessive burden on pupils and teachers”.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government is “working very hard to ensure that industrial action does not take place in our schools”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t believe that is in the interests of teachers and I certainly don’t believe it is in the interests of young people.

“This is an issue around what teachers consider to be unnecessary workload and the government has been very clear about our determination to take action to reduce teacher workload.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, now education secretary, said the Scottish Government is addressing issues of workload. “Industrial action in our schools would not be in the interests of anyone, least of all pupils and parents,” he said.

“The First Minister and I have set out various steps we are taking to tackle bureaucracy and free up teachers to teach.”

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