Scotland’s largest teaching union is to ballot its members in secondary schools on industrial action over “excessive and unsustainable” workloads.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the introduction of new qualifications under Curriculum for Excellence reforms alongside cuts to staff and resources had placed a “huge burden” on both teachers and pupils.
National 4 and 5 Qualifications were brought in to replace the old Standard Grades last year, with schools given the option to phase in new Higher exams this year.
The union said the decision to ballot over industrial action was backed by the EIS council yesterday after gaining the approval of the executive.
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Any action would stop short of a strike but would see teachers “working to contract” by boycotting any additional work and assessment related to the new qualifications.
The union said it would not have any wider impact on extra-curricular activities teachers may be involved in.
General secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The introduction of the new qualifications has, at times, been rushed and has also been significantly under-resourced.
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“The demands placed on teachers as a result have been both excessive and unsustainable, with serious implications for teachers’ health and wellbeing. Significant pressure has also been placed on pupils - both as the result of the changing qualifications system and due to continuing over-assessment in order to meet SQA requirements.
“The clear message that we are getting from members in the secondary sector is that enough is enough, which has resulted in today’s decision to move to an industrial action ballot.” Mr Flanagan said the decision had not been taken lightly and described industrial action as a “last resort”.
He added: “The reality is that despite years of discussions with the Scottish Government, local authorities and the Scottish Qualifications Authority over the desperate need to reduce the excessive workload associated with the new qualifications, too little has been done to tackle this problem.
“That is why the EIS has taken the decision to ballot its members and why we plan to launch a sustained programme of industrial action.”