Scottish teacher writes furious open letter to Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon's government is under fire over its education record. Picture: Steven BrownNicola Sturgeon's government is under fire over its education record. Picture: Steven Brown
Nicola Sturgeon's government is under fire over its education record. Picture: Steven Brown
A Scottish secondary school teacher has written an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon in which he describes Scotland's education system as 'utterly broken'.

Mark Wilson, a biology teacher at Dunfermline High School, claims that a sub-standard curriculum and “never-ending bureaucracy” is preventing school staff from doing their jobs properly.

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Union backs teacher's '˜utterly failing' letter to Nicola Sturgeon

In a letter to the Scottish First Minister published on his blog and reported by the Herald newspaper, he described the SNP’s flagship education reform Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) as a “disaster” for pupils and teachers.

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He claimed that the standard of Scottish education had gone into “unprecedented decline” over the past six years, adding that the curriculum was “utterly failing the children in our care”.

Mr Wilson, who has been a teacher for 16 years and is also a successful novelist, was previously a member of the SNP and voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014.

“Today, right now in schools across Scotland, teachers are losing morale on a scale I’ve never seen and didn’t think could happen,” he wrote.

“The current conditions for teachers are so gruelling that we are beginning to hate, to dread, stress over and now depart a role we loved so much.”

‘Ground down’

He added: “Teachers are demoralised, stressed and being ground down because we know that we are not doing the best that we can for the kids in our care.

“We are being prevented by a sub-standard curriculum and never-ending bureaucracy from educating our kids properly. We are failing these kids.” Ms Sturgeon has promised that improving education is her “number one priority” after studies showed pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills worsening and the nation sliding down international league tables.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the letter was a “serious warning” to the SNP and called on ministers to stop “dithering” on reforms to CfE.

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“This teacher speaks for many when he highlights the lack of clear direction within the Curriculum for Excellence and the lack of academic rigour in far too many subjects, all of which is having a devastating effect on teacher morale,” she added.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it “values teachers for the vital work they do educating and inspiring our young people” and insisted that CfE was the “right approach” for Scotland.

He added: “We have made a commitment to tackle bureaucracy and address excessive teacher workload.

“That will continue to be a key theme of our bold education reforms, which also include headteachers being given more power to make decisions in their schools to improve education and more money to make the changes needed.

“Changes to National Qualifications were welcomed when announced last year, with the removal of unit assessments freeing up time for teachers to focus on learning and teaching.”

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