“MOUNTAINS” of curriculum guidance issued to Scottish teachers over the past 12 years has been described as “self-evident lunacy” by an education expert.

Keir Bloomer, convener of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s education committee, said the overload of “nearly incomprehensible” information was hampering work to free up teachers to spend more time in the classroom.

The comments, during an evidence session at the Scottish Parliament’s education committee, came after John Swinney, the Education Secretary, pledged to cut workload.

He stepped in following complaints teachers had been swamped by bureaucracy throughout the roll-out of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms which were designed to empower schools.

Mr Swinney has already ordered schools quango and inspectorate body Education Scotland to produce slimmed down guidance and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been asked to scrap internal assessments for key school qualifications.

Mr Bloomer said he was pleased Mr Swinney “seemed determined” to do something, but went on to question the logic of producing even more guidance and of involving Education Scotland - which has been responsible for producing much of the guidance.

He said: “We have allowed mountains of guidance, much of it very badly written, nearly incomprehensible, to accumulate over the years, and that now stands in the way of the de-cluttering of the curriculum.

“One of the things that has concerned me in the last few weeks has been the choice of Education Scotland... to look at bureaucracy and unnecessary workload.

“If they are to be involved in slimming this down then there are serious capacity issues and also something of a re-programming exercise will have to be undertaken.”

While some political mistakes had been made, Mr Bloomer said most had come from bodies such as Education Scotland, which was supposed to support the roll-out of CfE.

He said: “The quality of advice that governments have received has not been strong and there has been a lack of strategic overview as a whole with the result that what has taken place is that guidance has been added to and multiplied and the overall consequence of that has been to obscure rather than to illuminate.”

Mr Bloomer, one of the original architects of CfE, also highlighted a lack of proper scrutiny of the reforms.

He said: “This is the most significant development that has taken place in Scottish education since the war and no evaluation system was set up at the outset.

“Successive governments have made claims of success in relation to CfE and to be honest with you, they are based on no evidence whatsoever.”

An Education Scotland spokeswoman said: “The review was very clear that action needs to be taken by all parties including schools themselves and national bodies, including Education Scotland itself.”

Meanwhile, Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives, called for a proper reason why internal assessments had been scrapped.

She said: “Parents, pupils and teachers have a right to know exactly why unit assessments have been abolished when it was previously intimated that significant changes could not be made without compromising the exam system.”

“It seems a very welcome development that unit assessments will disappear, but parents and pupils want to know the real reason for the change.”

She added: “It is not good enough that there is a lack of clarity over this and that is something that must be addressed by the SNP and its government education agencies.”