Scots teachers explore industrial action over workload

New Education Secretary John Swinney is facing the threat of industrial action from concerned teachers. Picture: TSPL
New Education Secretary John Swinney is facing the threat of industrial action from concerned teachers. Picture: TSPL
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John Swinney’s was facing a tough baptism as education secretary after a teachers’ union said it would ballot members on industrial action amid concerns about “excessive and unreasonable” workload.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Assocation (SSTA) also attacked the Scottish Governments proposals to test pupils, calling on Mr Swinney to “stop the assessment madness now”.

An expert group was set up by the government in January to look at ways to reduce secondary teacher workloads and stress in the wake of Curriculum for Excellence reforms.

The SSTA said its national executive has considered the group’s report and will now seek members’ views.

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The Scottish Government’s education reforms are proving controversial with teachers.

Earlier this month the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) announced it will ballot members over industrial action and NASUWT has already instructed members to boycott some work associated with the Curriculum for Excellence.

SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson said: “SSTA members have always wanted to do the best for the young people in their classes and went over and beyond to ensure the qualification system worked and their young people didn’t lose out.

“But the qualifications and the assessments need to fit the teaching and learning and not the other way round.

“Teachers’ professional judgment must be respected and not tested at every opportunity.

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“The government must be prepared to deliver on its commitment to ‘focus on embedding Curriculum for Excellence across S1 to S3 and ensure that assessment is proportionate and appropriate from S3 onwards’.

“Unfortunately, little progress has been made to relieve this burden and the SSTA has had no choice but to move to an indicative ballot of our members for industrial action against excessive and unreasonable workload. It is not too late for the government to intervene and stop the assessment madness now.”

Mr Searson said the Curriculum for Excellence is moving Scottish education in the right direction but teachers “need to be trusted and given the freedom to make it work”.

He said: “Unfortunately, the cuts in education and the shortage of teachers have and will continue to create a narrowing of the curriculum.”

Education secretary John Swinney said: “ I do not believe that industrial action is in anybody’s best interests.

“I will continue to focus on what we can do to improve assessment and qualifications in our schools.”