Scottish secondary teachers balloted over industrial action

school pupils (generic)
Image caption The EIS said the workload of both staff and pupils had increased with the introduction of the new qualifications

Scotland's largest teaching union is to ballot its members in secondary schools on industrial action over "excessive and unsustainable" workloads.

The EIS said a "huge burden" had been placed on staff and pupils by the introduction of new qualifications.

The union said the introduction had been "rushed and under-resourced".

It said it was not proposing strike action, with members instead being asked to vote on whether to implement a "work to contract".

This would see teachers refuse to take part in any extra work associated with the new qualifications.

However, the union said the action would not impact on unrelated things teachers may do on top of their contracted duties, such as sports clubs or school trips.

The Scottish government said it had put in place an "unprecedented level of support" for the new qualifications, and was committed to ensuring councils had the "right number and highest quality" of teachers.

It said it was working with partners, including the EIS, to "consider any issues around the new qualifications" including teacher workload, and to cut unnecessary bureaucracy in schools.

A spokesman said: "Industrial action would not be in the interests of anyone, least of all pupils and parents."

'Health and wellbeing'

National 4 and 5 Qualifications were brought in to replace the old Standard Grades last year, with schools given the option to phase in new Higher exams this year.

The EIS said the decision to ballot over industrial action was approved by its council after gaining the approval of the executive.

General secretary Larry Flanagan said the union planned to launch a "sustained programme of industrial action until real and lasting reductions in qualifications-related workload for pupils and teachers are delivered in secondary schools across Scotland."

He added: "The introduction of the new qualifications has, at times, been rushed and has also been significantly under-resourced.

"The demands placed on teachers as a result have been both excessive and unsustainable, with serious implications for teachers' health and wellbeing.

"Significant pressure has also been placed on pupils - both as the result of the changing qualifications system and due to continuing over-assessment in order to meet SQA requirements."

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