Teachers doubt schools’ readiness for new exams

Teachers found their workload had increased in the past year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Teachers found their workload had increased in the past year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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MORE than half of Scotland’s teachers are “barely confident” of their school’s readiness to deliver new exams as part of thefledgling curriculum, a major survey by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has found.

The poll found 54.8 per cent of teachers harboured doubts about their department’s ability to prepare pupils for the National Qualifications, exams being introduced later this year as part of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). About 11 per cent of teachers who responded to the survey said they were “not confident at all” of their department’s readiness for the new exams.

In what the EIS said was the biggest survey of its kind carried out into CfE in the later stages of secondary school – known as the “senior phase” – 90 per cent of the 2,600 teachers who responded said their workload had increased over the past year.

The union, which represents 80 per cent of the country’s teachers, said its survey highlighted the need for the Scottish Government and local councils to do more to support schools.

The Nationals, which replace Standard Grades and Inter­mediates, will be introduced at the start of the next school year, with the first exams being sat in 2014.

The EIS has previously called for the introduction of the exams to be delayed by a year, a move made by East Renfrewshire Council, home to some of the country’s best-performing state schools, but not adopted elsewhere.

General-secretary Larry Flanagan said: “We cannot afford for even a small percentage of teachers to be unprepared, as that would mean their pupils would be disadvantaged.”

He added: “The EIS did warn that the timetable for the implementation of CfE senior phase was too rushed, and argued that there should be a one-year delay in the introduction of National 4 and National 5 qualifications.

“The survey also highlights the clear message from class teachers that the Scottish Government must hold up its end of the bargain by delivering the support, information and resources to enable delivery of CfE senior phase.”

The survey also found that 
55 per cent of teachers rate materials published by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) as “not very helpful”.

Meanwhile, two-thirds felt they had received an “unsatisfactory” level of support from their local authority or national
agency Education Scotland.

Minister for learning Alasdair Allan said: “I visit schools across Scotland most weeks and I see that Scottish education is good, and it is getting better. I see inspiring teachers and dedicated leaders rising to the challenge of delivering a modern education for their pupils.

“The Scottish Government and national bodies, such as Education Scotland, SQA and ADES (Association of Directors of Education in Scotland), continue to do all we can to encourage and support these efforts.”