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Teacher strike threat over new exam workload

SCHOOL teachers are threatening to go on strike over the roll- out of Scotland's controversial new exams.

The threat of industrial action in schools will be raised at the annual general meeting in Perth of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) - the country's largest teaching union.

The move follows a number of national surveys by the EIS highlighting workload as the key issue of concern for teachers during the implementation of new National exams - which replaced Standard Grade this summer as part of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

A motion to the AGM from the union's Renfrewshire local association which will be debated later this week calls on the Scottish Government, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and curriculum body Education Scotland to ensure that better resources are provided for all National courses.

It adds: "Failure to deliver this by August 2014 should be followed by an immediate ballot for industrial action up to and including strike action."

A motion from the Edinburgh local association also calls for a ballot on industrial action on the issue of the new exams, with a boycott of internal assessments.

One of the main additional sources of workload for teachers has been the increase in units assessed at school level with no external exams.

The motion calls for a ballot of secondary teachers before the end of 2014 on action "amounting to a boycott of all internal assessments … until such time as the SQA reduce the amount of, and reform the nature of, the internal assessments for all courses."

The new curriculum was introduced to make learning more relevant and better suited to the interests of pupils, and there have been significant changes to what is taught, alongside the introduction of the new exams.

However, teachers originally wanted to delay the initiative and feel there has not been sufficient support or time for development work alongside their other duties. They say the amount of extra work created for classroom teachers alongside their existing duties has led to a sharp rise in stress.

An EIS spokesman said: "Clearly, the significant number of motions proposing potential industrial action indicate that teachers are becoming increasingly disillusioned in relation to these issues.

"In an environment where teacher workload and levels of stress are soaring, combined with continuing cuts to education funding and the attacks on pay and pensions, delegates are certain to express their dissatisfaction during the course of AGM debates."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We take support for teachers very seriously and continue to work with teachers' representatives and local authorities to address any points.

"These include the workload of those at the front line delivering lasting improvements that will benefit our young people and economy for years to come.

"There is excellent work being done in schools across the country and we are committed to further improving our education system, as shown by the unprecedented package of support and resources provided to implement CfE."

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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