Final results of a national survey of Secondary teachers and Further Education lecturers regarding the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) have confirmed significant concerns over resources, support and information, workload and timescale.
The results of the survey highlight the need for action from the Scottish Government, local authorities, Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority to ensure that schools and colleges can deliver the senior phase of CfE.
The EIS represents 80% of Scotland’s teaching profession including more secondary teachers than all other unions, and is the only recognised union for the country’s FE lecturers.
The EIS also announced plans today to conduct a similar survey of the nursery and primary sectors, to gauge teachers’ views on the progress of CfE implementation and resource needs.
Commenting on the survey – by far the largest and most comprehensive yet conducted on the CfE senior phase – EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said:
"The final results of the EIS national survey offers some reassurance for the future of the CfE senior phase, but also clear warnings from the teaching profession regarding the implementation programme."
We cannot afford for even a small percentage of teachers to be unprepared as that would mean their pupils would be disadvantaged."Whilst the survey returns indicate that the level of teacher confidence regarding delivery is growing overall, the fact that around half of classroom teachers are still expressing a lack of confidence indicates that there remains a considerable amount of work to be done to ensure that all schools are ready to deliver courses leading to the new National qualifications examinations from this year."
"The EIS did warn that the timetable for the implementation of CfE Senior Phase was too rushed, and argued that there should be a one-year delay in the introduction of National 4 and National 5 qualifications."
"The reported increases in excessive workload indicate the professional commitment of teachers to ensure that pupils are not disadvantaged but the survey also highlights the clear message from class teachers that the Scottish Government must hold up its end of the bargain by delivering the support, information and resources to enable delivery of CfE senior phase.”
Teachers want the tools to allow them to do the job.
"In particular, the promised course resource materials from Education Scotland and additional assessment exemplification from the SQA continue to be key to the successful implementation of the CfE senior phase."
"The EIS has already raised the issue of exemplification with the SQA and, while we appreciate that they themselves are under pressure, teachers need clarity on this vital issue."
"Qualifications are at the high-tariff end of CfE delivery, so it is absolutely vital that teachers are fully confident so that no pupil is disadvantaged, and so that parents, employers and further and higher education providers can retain confidence in the system.”
"It is also a matter of significant concern that so many schools have not been able to access the dedicated additional support that was promised by the Scottish Government."
"Indications from the survey returns are that not all the money for senior phase CfE support has reached the classroom, which raises questions regarding where precisely it has gone.”
"Mike Russell has made a clear commitment to address teachers’ resource and support concerns, so he needs to ensure that this is delivered where it is needed most to schools across the country.”
Highlighting resource concerns, one member of the senior management team at a Scottish secondary school said,
"Teachers are bearing the burden of implementation on top of their daily job. Resources allocated to implementation are completely inadequate."
"Education Scotland does not appear to know when teachers want to have freedom to develop independently or when they require clear guidelines."
"It simply appears as trying to implement a fundamental change in Scottish education on the cheap.”
Another senior manager from another school shared these concerns, and added some specific comments about the lack of assessment exemplification:
"CfE - a sensible, and much needed reform of the curriculum has been jeopardised by excessive politically-led haste and many poor decisions by Education Scotland."
"Some areas, such as assessment, have been neglected and I would not be surprised if a further radical shake- up of the system were eventually needed.”
A third senior manager said:
"The lack of a consistent message around the delivery of subjects across Scotland is creating a situation that is a nightmare to manage with some authorities delivering different numbers of courses in S4 therefore they must be starting teaching the courses before the Senior Phase."
"This potentially undermines and disadvantages those who are following the broad general education and the original advice."
"Recent publications from Education Scotland lack clarity and are ambiguous effectively allowing people to interpret things as they wish. There is a real danger that young people are disadvantaged.”
Unpromoted teachers and principal teachers who responded to the survey shared many of the concerns expressed by senior colleagues. One teacher commented on the timetable and the lack of supporting resources:
"I feel implementation is being rushed. Teachers need more time with the arrangements, more exemplification and more course materials."
"This would allow us to fully familiarise ourselves with the course and carefully plan learning and assessment to suit our local needs."
"At the moment many SQA materials will be made available later than teachers need them.”
"Stress levels have increased across the school. Work levels have increased, and often feel having to reinvent the wheel, goals changed and re-write required becomes very frustrating."
"I do not think the implementation was handled well at all. Still has several serious issues to be addressed - and big concern of the pupils who are having to endure these changes.”
One teacher was positive about the shape of new courses, but shared concerns regarding assessment and resources materials:
"The new courses look great but the assessment information and resources are arriving far too late. It is now a huge rush to prepare for these new courses which start in a matter of months now.”
Issuing both a warning and an assurance that teachers were doing their best, another teacher added:
"We are trying to change the tyres on a car as it continues to hurtle down the motorway."
"Current S3 will not be disadvantaged due to the professionalism and dedication of staff determined to protect the quality of education being delivered to them whilst 'powers that be' decide how and what to assess and then how to use this information gathered.”
Further information from: Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org