Scottish teachers at '˜breaking point' over workload hike

Scotland's teachers are being pushed to 'breaking point' as cuts to staffing, changes to the classroom curriculum and overhauls of the exam system take their toll, a survey by the EIS union has found.

Standards in key subjects are falling in Scotlands schools. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are now warnings that pupils’ learning could suffer as teachers say they are being swamped with too many initiatives to keep on top of things.

The EIS survey finds nearly nine out of ten teachers have seen their workload increase in the past year, while fewer than half of those surveyed would currently recommend a teaching as a career choice.

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It comes against the backdrop of falling standards in Scotland’s schools in key areas such as reading, maths and sciences, according to Pisa international league tables.

Education Secretary John Swinney is poised to announce further reforms of the system later this week.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The findings indicate that the pressures on teachers are excessive and growing. A startling 87 per cent of respondents indicated that their workload has increased during the past year – with around a third of all respondents indicating that their workload has increased significantly.

“Another major cause for concern, given the teacher recruitment issues across the country, is the fact that fewer than half of those surveyed would currently recommend teaching as a career choice – this is far worse than in our previous survey.

“Levels of workload satisfaction are also down, compared to the last survey undertaken by the EIS, with 19 per cent of respondents stating they were ‘not at all satisfied’ with their current workload compared to 10 per cent in the previous survey.”

Nearly nine out of ten teachers say their workload has increased in the last year, while a fifth said they would not recommend the profession.

The figures were revealed in the latest survey by the EIS trade union, which said the results show the pressure on teachers is “excessive and growing”.

Teacher pay has been falling “in real terms for over a decade”, he added, saying it is now 16 per cent lower than in 2003. The EIS annual general meeting in Perth backed a motion saying failure to reach a deal on wages would result in it balloting members on industrial action - including strikes - that could hit schools in the academic year 2018-19.

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “Teachers deserve a government that is focused on education and driving up standards. It is time John Swinney and the SNP listened to the EIS and got back to the day job.”

Mr Swinney told MSPs yesterday he had “taken a series of steps to tackle teacher workload”. As part of this he said he had “given guidance to all teachers which indicates that the teaching profession should be free to concentrate on learning and teaching”.

Inspectors had been commissioned to “audit the burden of bureaucracy” applied to schools by local authorities.

On the issue of pay, he accepted there “has been constraint in public sector pay for some time.”