SCHOOLS across Scotland will be given more funding to help them introduce controversial new qualifications.
The Scottish Government has announced a £5 million package of measures to pay for more staff training days and to free up time for development work.
Some of the money will also be spent on school events to make sure parents are fully aware of the new qualifications.
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The Government announced the move after pressure from teaching unions to provide more support for the new National exams, which replace Standard Grade.
The National exams were introduced as part of the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms and will be sat by some 54,000 15 and 16-year-old pupils from April.
However, a survey of teachers in January highlighted a raft of concerns with staff struggling to understand the purpose of the changes and lacking confidence in delivering them.
Dr Alasdair Allan, the Learning Minister, said: "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 £5m support will ensure 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."
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) welcomed the move. He said: "It is encouraging that the Scottish Government is listening to teachers' concerns relating to both workload and bureaucracy and taking steps to lighten the load and increase support for teachers and pupils."
Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, said: "This is a welcome announcement and although not the complete answer to the problems our members have identified it at least goes some of the way towards meaningful progress."
Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, which represents secondary headteachers, also welcomed the announcement.
"The key ingredients of additional time and supportive resources are welcome," he said.
"We continue to have absolute confidence in all our staff helping our young people achieve the best they can."
Douglas Chapman, education spokesman for council umbrella group Cosla, added: "The announcement of new funding from Scottish Government will be helpful in increasing teacher and parent confidence in the new exams and to ensure every student has the best chance of success."
The announcement came as national exam body the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) bowed to pressure form the teaching unions over bureaucracy.
Last week, the EIS urged the SQA to suspend its "verification" scheme, which assesses how teachers are grading pupils' work, arguing it was too burdensome and had already shown most schools working well.
The SQA said yesterday it would not suspend the verification process, but would lift requirements for some verification.