SCOTTISH teachers routinely buy basic classroom materials such as pens, exercise books and pencils for their pupils because of a shortages of basic supplies, unions have claimed.

Susan Quinn, president of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union, said it was now accepted that school staff would pay for the equipment.

She also raised a raft of problems facing the sector, including growing workload associated with the roll-out of the new curriculum, pension changes and cuts to colleges.

Miss Quinn's comments at the union's annual general meeting in Perth come after a series of EIS surveys highlighting the lack of classroom basics.

One recent survey of members found that on average teachers spent more than £185 a year topping up materials, with several saying they had spent more than £1000.

The most common items bought included pens, pencils and rulers, cartridges for printing and photocopying, books – including textbooks and novels – and paper.

Teachers also invested their own money in items to make the classroom more "fun", such as toys, games and food ingredients for baking lessons.

One teacher said she had run a marathon to raise money for an overhead projector, and another said she had to buy her own chair.

Education Secretary Michael Russell will speak at the AGM on Saturday and take questions.

Miss Quinn said: "What I hope he will share is how we can address the crucial issues for all teachers and lecturers in Scotland.

"How we can avoid teachers working till 68, meaning they are worn out and there are fewer jobs for those entering the profession. How we can balance the desire to have better qualified teachers with the reality of lower salary levels.

"How we can remove the over-bureaucratic systems we see developing around planning and assessment which add only to workload, and how we can overcome a position where it is accepted teachers will use their own money to provide pencils, paper and books for pupils."

Miss Quinn said Mr Russell has issued reassuring messages about cutting bureaucracy, but teachers wanted to action on the ground.

Delegates are to vote on whether to go on strike over workload concerns, and Miss Quinn added: "If we don't make progress in these areas then members are ready to take action."

Meanwhile, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, will raise fresh concerns over changes to teachers' pensions in his address to the conference tomorrow.

Under current proposals, teachers would have to work until they are 68 before reaching pension age, which the EIS argues is too late.

The Scottish Government has declared on a number of occasions that it doesn't support the UK pension changes.

He said: "It has an opportunity to deliver on that rhetoric by protecting Scottish teachers from the main impact of the changes in a way that it has failed to do with regard to contribution increases which have been enacted.

"The EIS has a clear message that progress must be made on pensions, or one way or another, this issue will remain centre-stage all the way up to the referendum, and even beyond that."