Members of Scotland’s largest teaching union, EIS, will gather in Perth this week for an Annual General Meeting dominated by serious concerns over excessive teacher workload, and questions over the level of support provided to implement Curriculum for Excellence and introduce new qualifications / methods of assessment.
In particular, the role of the SQA in supporting the introduction of the new qualifications will come under close scrutiny.
A recent major health and wellbeing survey, commissioned by the EIS and published last week, has indicated that severe workload pressures are placing strain on teachers leading to increased stress and health problems.
Commenting on the programme of Motions and Amendments to be debated, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "While there will be debates on a large number of Motions covering a wide range of issues, it is clear that severe workload and inadequate support for teachers will be the dominant themes at this year’s AGM.
"Teachers are becoming increasingly worn out and frustrated by the excessive workload pressures that they continually face, and the message that they are sending out is that enough is enough – action is needed now to lighten the load on our teachers.”
Mr Flanagan added, "The evidence is that many teachers are increasingly approaching breaking point, and have been driven there by a combination of factors that are outwith their control.
"The budget cutting austerity agenda has reduced both staffing and resource levels in schools, placing increasing pressure on teachers to achieve more with less.
"The findings from our recent survey on teacher wellbeing indicate the worrying scale and severity of the problems of stress and its associated health difficulties.”
As well as the debates relating to workload and support for changes related to Curriculum for Excellence (with several motions calling for industrial action), the AGM will discuss a wide variety of key issues such as child poverty, funding for education, combating discrimination, teachers’ pay and conditions and pension changes.
The AGM is the supreme decision making body of the EIS, and meets in June each year to shape EIS policy and to agree the priorities for the EIS in the year ahead.
Almost 400 members of the EIS (including the Office Bearers, members of EIS Council and Delegates from Local Associations and Self-Governing Associations (EIS-FELA and EIS-ULA)) are eligible to attend and vote at the AGM.
This year’s AGM will debate 64 Motions, including 26 on Education matters, 2 on Employment Relations matters, 4 on Equality matters, 13 on Salaries & Conditions matters and 19 on Organisational matters.
The AGM also features keynote addresses by EIS President Phil Jackson (Thursday) and General Secretary Larry Flanagan (Friday) and a busy programme of events, which this year includes an endorsed fringe debate on Education and the Independence Referendum, featuring external speakers including Dennis Canavan (for Yes Scotland) and Murdo Fraser (for Better Together).
On Saturday, Depute General Secretary of the STUC, Dave Moxham, will address the AGM on issues relating to the STUC’s ‘A Just Scotland’ report.
The AGM is being held in Perth Concert Hall, opening on Thursday 5 June and runs until Saturday 7 June. Members of the media are welcome to attend as observers.