SCOTLAND’S exams look set to be thrown into chaos after the EIS warned their members could refuse to mark papers unless the pay row is resolved. 

The union’s threat comes at the start of strike action targeted in the constituencies of Nicola Sturgeon, John Swinney, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and Greens education spokesman, Ross Greer. 

All schools in Glasgow Southside, Perthshire North, Dunfermline, and the East Dunbartonshire part of Clydebank & Milngavie will be closed for the rest of the week. 

There will then be two more days of national strikes on Tuesday 28 and March 1, before another three days of targeted action between March 7 and 9. 

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said she could understand why parents in the affected constituencies would feel aggrieved, but she said the anger should be directed at the government and councils. 

“Teachers do not want to be on strike, but the fact that they are is an indictment on politicians within the Scottish Government and Cosla who have the authority to deliver a better pay deal, but have failed to do so. 

“Parents and students have every right to be angry at the fact that local and national politicians continue to collude in withholding a fair settlement from Scotland’s teachers. 

“This is another part of the chronic underfunding of Education both by national and local government in spite of the claims that Education is a number one priority in this country.”

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Teachers are looking for a 10 per cent pay rise, but the latest offer from the Scottish Government and Cosla amount to 6% for 2022-23 and 5.5% for 2023-24.

Further strikes are planned over April, May and June, when most senior exams take place. 

Ms Bradley said the union had written to their secondary school members to say they did not have to mark exam papers. 

READ MORE: Teachers reject 'inadequate' new pay offer

She said: “While the marking of SQA exams papers is a voluntary activity and is therefore not part of our dispute with employers, many members have expressed an unwillingness to sign up as SQA markers while this pay dispute is ongoing. 

“Having taken legal advice on this matter, the EIS can confirm that our members are absolutely within their rights to decline or delay signing up as SQA markers while the pay dispute remains unresolved. 

“It is entirely a matter for each member to decide if they wish, or do not wish, to enter into a voluntary agreement with the SQA to mark exam scripts.”

READ MORE: Call to review exam appeals over fears of wide 'disparities'

Meanwhile, Ms Somerville has penned an open letter to pupils to outline the support that is available.

The minister said: “I want to reassure pupils, parents and carers that my focus remains on resolving this pay dispute, delivering a fair and sustainable settlement for teachers and ending disruption in our schools.

“The threat of further disruption in the run up to the exam diet is particularly concerning. I have written to local authorities asking them to consider how secondary schools can remain open for pupils preparing for exams, and this is being reviewed by councils on a school-by-school basis.

“Pay talks are continuing and I would, again, appeal to trades unions to suspend industrial action while these discussions are ongoing.”

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for education Stephen Kerr MSP said: “Pupils and parents will be distraught at the thought of exams being disrupted - not only during the exam diet itself - but also during the marking process.

“That would put children and young people’s future prospects at risk if their results are delayed if the teacher pay dispute cannot be resolved by the SNP.

“These strikes are a mess of Shirley-Anne Somerville’s making and this escalation and targeted strike action cannot make that any clearer.

“It is a crying shame children and young people in these specific areas will now suffer added disruption to their learning as a result of Shirley-Anne’s dithering.

“The onus is on her to finally resolve this dispute positively and ensure that there is no looming threats hanging over pupils exams.”

READ MORE: SQA under pressure for refusing to reveal reason for failed appeals

Scottish Labour Education spokesperson Michael Marra said “Pupils and teachers alike are being badly let down by the SNP’s botched handling of these pay negotiations.

“The SNP need to get serious about delivering a fair deal for teachers and an end to the strike chaos in our schools.”


A spokesperson for SQA said: “Every year, Scotland's education system relies on the work of thousands of dedicated teachers and lecturers.

“Thus far, we have had a good response from teachers to take on paid marker work and we hope that this continues.

“The industrial action is a matter between teaching unions, COSLA and the Scottish Government.

"We sincerely hope that the dispute is resolved, in the interests of learners.”