Schools are being turned into “exam factories” with pupils under ever increasing stress, a teachers’ leader has warned.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), blamed changes to qualifications for the trend.

Since the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence in schools seven years ago there has been a major overhaul of subjects and corresponding changes to exams.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, also approved the removal of internal assessment units, which was intended to reduce workload for teachers and pupils.

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However, teaching unions argue the reverse is the case because of a resulting decision by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to lengthen exams to maintain standards.

At the SSTA’s annual congress in Crieff, Mr Searson highlighted a recent survey of more than 1,000 union members on recent changes to National 5 qualifications.

The survey found 66 per cent of staff said there had been an increase in workload.

Nearly 60% of those surveyed said pupil workload had increased, 70% said pupil stress had increased and 30% thought results could be damaged.

Mr Searson said: “The minister’s expectation that removal of the units would reduce teacher workload has been undermined.

“We predicted that teacher workload would not be reduced and that it would put additional pressure on teachers and pupils. We are creating examination factories, not places of learning where happiness is seen as a good and valued thing.”

Mr Searson called for a wide-ranging review of Scotland’s qualification system.

He added: “We need a system that primarily focuses on teacher professional judgment without the workload heavy, bureaucratic and administrative nonsense we have now.”

Mr Searson went on to call on the Scottish Government to ditch plans for a Headteachers’ Charter which would give heads more power over the curriculum, recruitment of staff and budgets.

Mr Searson said many headteachers were “already struggling to cope with all the demands placed upon them”.

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He also criticised plans to disband the General Teaching Council of Scotland and transfer its functions to a new Education Workforce Council. “The priority must be to make changes that are going to help the teacher in the classroom today,” he said. A spokesman for the SQA said: “The removal of units and unit assessments – which follows the Deputy First Minister’s announcement in September 2016 – means that we need to strengthen course assessments to protect the integrity, credibility, breadth and standards of National Courses.

“The removal of units and unit assessments was welcomed by teaching unions and the timelines for making these changes were set by the Scottish Government to address concerns on assessment workload.

“The ways in which we have changed assessments have been carefully thought through and consist of a mixture of approaches. Where we are extending the duration of a question paper this has been considered according to the specific assessment needs of each subject.”

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A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Our education reforms are focused on giving schools and head teachers more power and money to raise standards and close the attainment gap.

“They are based on international evidence of how high-performing education systems work – delivering extra help for teachers in the classroom, more professional development and a stronger voice for parents and pupils.”