Secondary school teachers are to be given more support with new qualifications, the Scottish Government has announced.

Teaching union the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) called for more help for teachers following concerns over the National 4 and 5 qualifications which are replacing Standard Grades this year.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan has announced a £5 million package of support.

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It includes £4.75 million for local authorities to fund more time for teachers and schools to play their part in delivering the new national qualifications, including the new Highers, which will be sat by some pupils in 2015.

An additional in-service day in 2014/15 has also been added, alongside £250,000 for local authorities to deliver school events to improve parents' understanding of the new qualifications.

Dr Allan said: "Teachers and pupils across Scotland are making good progress as they work towards the new National Qualifications and prepare for Highers.

"I want to make sure that we do everything we can to support this work and that is why I am putting in place an additional package to help school and authority level preparations.

"This £5 million support will ensure that teachers get the time and space they need to come together to work through assessment procedures, as well as other aspects of the new qualifications.

"In doing so, teachers will be able to make use of new "route-maps" through assessment, developed by Education Scotland. More detailed information on these will be available for headteachers at the first of the four national leadership events, which start on Monday."

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS believes that this new support package is a positive development that will be very welcome in our secondary schools. Teachers are continuing to work extremely hard to assimilate new assessment requirements and to ensure that pupils are fully prepared for the first set of National exams in May.

"It is encouraging that the Scottish Government and the national education bodies are listening to teachers' concerns that the EIS raised relating to both workload and bureaucracy, and are taking steps to lighten the load and increase support for teachers and pupils."

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has also announced that it is modifying the approach to quality assurance of the new qualifications.

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of SQA, said "The decision to make the modification we are announcing today was based on the sound intelligence from the verification to date and intelligence from schools.

"It will allow schools and colleges to concentrate on key aspects of national standards, while giving teachers time to focus on coursework and exam preparation."