The results of a major national survey of nursery and primary teachers have highlighted growing workload concerns associated with the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. 

Almost 4,000 teachers replied to the EIS online survey over a three-week period.

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

  • Over half (53.6%) of respondents were either "barely confident” (43.9%) or "not confident at all” (9.7%) in forms of assessment associated with CfE.
  • Almost two-third of respondents (63.7%) described an unhelpful tick-box approach to the measurement of CfE progress.
  • 62.3% of respondents described the current preferred methods of gauging CfE progress as "barely useful” (44.6%) or "not useful at all” (17.7%).
  • More than half (54.8%) of Primary 7 teachers described P7 profiling as "not very useful” in supporting the transition process for pupils about to enter secondary school.
  • Almost half of respondents thought the amount of forward planning in schools was "excessive”.
  • Increasing levels of workload remain the most common concern – over 80% of respondents (81.4%) described the level of CfE workload increase as either "high” (44.1%) or "very high” (37.3%)


Commenting on the survey results, EIS President Susan Quinn –a primary school headteacher – said:

"The findings of this major EIS survey highlight the growing workload burden that is being placed on both nursery and primary teachers during the continuing implementation of Curriculum for Excellence." 

"There is a widely-held belief within the education community that CfE is further along in the pre-5 and primary sector compared to the secondary and further education sectors."

"While there may be an element of truth in this, it is certainly not the case that implementing CfE is a simple matter for teachers in these sectors." 

"This is highlighted by the very high levels of additional CfE workload identified in the survey returns, as well as clear concerns regarding assessment practice, forward planning and a range of other administrative tasks associated with CfE.”

"It was interesting to note just last week that the head of Education Scotland’s team of school inspectors was critical of growing levels of bureaucratic red-tape and paperwork imposed on teachers in the name of CfE."

"Clearly, this is not what CfE is supposed to be about, and the heavy levels of recording and reporting being demanded in some local authorities are having an impact on the time available for learning and teaching." 

"CfE is designed to be teacher-led and pupil focused, and too much time spent jumping through hoops of red-tape is counter-productive and runs contrary to the ethos of CfE.”

"The increasing workload demands being placed on teachers in all sectors is an issue of major concern for the EIS, as such increases are bad for both teachers and pupils."

"Learning and teaching must always remain the main focus in our classrooms, even as we work to implement CfE in our schools." 

"That is why the EIS recently announced a major new campaign to address the issue of growing teacher workload, to ensure a better working environment for teachers and a better learning environment for pupils." 

"Further information on the new EIS workload campaign will be issued shortly, and I would urge all EIS members in all sectors to support it.”

Other key issues of concern identified in the survey include: 

  • 61% of respondents describe "Exemplification of Standards” as being essential;
  • 56% of respondents describe "Additional Financial Support (per capita)” as being essential; and
  • 45% of respondents describe "Additional INSET days” as being essential.


Many respondents were critical of a new tracking system called "On Track With Learning” or OTWL. 

This system will be "rolled out” across Scotland in August 2013.

OTWL was marketed as a way of reducing workload.  However, many teachers have indicated that it has been a major contributor to increased workload and has added to the burden of weekly planning.



A copy of the summary survey return is attached for information.  A sample selection of teacher comments in response to the survey is also attached.

Further information from: Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244 or