The 2013 AGM agreed a major campaign on workload reduction following the success of a motion supported by local associations of North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire, Renfrewshire & East Dunbartonshire.
This campaign will highlight the increased workload associated with developments within a Curriculum for Excellence including the introduction of internal assessment as part of the new National Qualifications.
The campaign will focus on the impact of work/life balance and health/well-being issues for teachers and will publicise and promote agreements on school Working Time Arrangements to reduce workload.
Moving, Aileen Barrie (North Lanarkshire and Council) said, "I was supportive of the ethos of CfE – but what we are encountering now is very different from that ethos. There are too many different interpretations of what is going on, particularly with regard to the new qualifications and assessment. The current position is an administrative nightmare.”
Ms Barrie added, "We are still muddling through with National 3, 4 and 5 – with the prospect of the new Higher also looming. We currently just don’t have the support that we need – I’ve never known a situation like it in all my years of teaching. We need the Scottish Government to listen and then act.”
Seconding, Iain Scott (North Lanarkshire) said, "90% of our members responding to the CfE senior phase survey felt that workload had increased as a result of CfE. This was mirrored in the recent nursery/primary survey where 80% of teachers identified increased workload as a result of CfE. Teachers are working flat out – often very late into the night – to make CfE work.”
Speaking in support, Ken Brown (East Dunbartonshire) said, "As teachers, we are being let down by the system, and our pupils are being let down.”
Allan Crosbie (Edinburgh) also spoke in support and highlighted the importance of publicising workload issues through all appropriate fora, including the SEJ.
Mike Smith (Edinburgh) spoke of the failure of electronic management systems to lessen workload burdens – "IT systems are often dire and the management tools are unreliable and difficult to use.”
David Drever (Orkney), convener of the EIS Strategy Committee which is overseeing the planning for the workload campaign, said "The Strategy Committee began discussing these issues quite early in the year. We have launched a workload campaign and will continue to build it in the year ahead.
The time has come for a workload campaign – this is an opportune time for us to address this issue. Building membership engagement will be key – and this is another issue that we are already working actively to address. We are doing this in the interests of teachers, pupils, education and wider Scottish society.”
Campaign of Action on CfE Workload
Celia Connolly (Glasgow) successfully called for the EIS to prepare a campaign of action – including possible strike action – by the end of the year, in opposition to the increased workload associated with CfE implementation.
"It is welcome that the EIS is launching its workload campaign”, said Ms Connolly. "Looking at the recent EIS surveys, the findings speak for themselves on workload. There is a clear lack of confidence in CfE and a lack of clear direction and leadership. The result of all of this is a large workload increase – CfE is only being delivered through the goodwill of Scottish teachers. Delivering CfE at a time of cuts has placed an intolerable workload burden on teachers.
It is action that gets results, so we must take action and our workload campaign must include industrial action.”
Seconding the Motion, Carolyn Ritchie (Glasgow) spoke of possible forms that industrial action could take, including refusal to hand over forward plans to managers or ceasing the creation of new CfE resources. But, she added, "We need to be able to justify what we are doing – or not doing – publicly, to parents and others, in order to win their support.”
A note of caution was struck by Paul Bladworth (East Dunbartonshire), who said, "I am concerned about a Motion that includes possible strike action on CfE – this will be perceived as opposition to CfE itself. I urge caution, while I support the concerns over workload.”
Bryce Wilson (East Ayrshire) had a simple suggestion to tackling workload – "We need to get used to using the word ‘No’”, he said.
Charlie McKinnon (Glasgow) said, "CfE is not developing in any way how we hoped it would. CfE is like an out of control juggernaut. The Cabinet Secretary needs to lay out exactly what he is going to do to address workload concerns on CfE.”
And Nicola Fisher (Glasgow) added, "This isn’t about not liking CfE – it is about workload, workload, workload. We have already heard positive messages from both the Cabinet Secretary and Education Scotland – but talk is cheap, and we need clear action to reduce workload.
This motion is about protecting CfE, protecting our members, and protecting children’ education.”
Following a show of hands, the motion passed by an overwhelming majority.