The outgoing President of the EIS has used his keynote address to the EIS Annual General Meeting (AGM) to issue warnings over excessive bureaucracy, growing teacher workload and the risk of increasing political interference in education.
Addressing teachers and lecturers from across Scotland at Perth Concert Hall today (Thursday), EIS President Tommy Castles highlighted that the strain on the education system, pupils and teachers is increasing.
Mr Castles told delegates, "On Curriculum for Excellence, I’ll quote Sinatra: ‘Flying high in April shot down in May.’ We spend up to ten years implementing CfE and then after a half hour speech made by a politician to a group of academics it is open season on us and the CfE.”
On recent party political spats over testing, Mr Castles said, "Where does this assumption come from that seemingly all assessment stopped on day one of CfE? Schools continue to assess and in part do this by testing.
"Proper assessment should be relevant, manageable and inform the learning process. We cannot go back to the testing regime of 5-14 which did not inform the learning process but created a target driven culture which corrupted the learning process."
On workload implications, Mr Castles added, "The Curriculum for Excellence itself is still one of our main drivers of workload. It should have brought about a decluttering of the Primary Curriculum and it has not.
"If you want to see the deep learning the CfE promised then declutter the curriculum. If you want more time spent on ‘the basics’, declutter the curriculum. In secondary schools, the main workload driver is the National Qualifications.
"It was clear that last year the process was a nightmare for all involved and that includes teachers, pupils and parents. From the motions on the table at this AGM and in discussions with members, the issues have not been resolved and that is both in terms of workload and concerns over those assessments.
"The decisions the AGM takes on these motions will inform EIS policy for our next meetings with the SQA."
Mr Castles added, "Most importantly in tackling workload we have to ensure our members themselves develop the confidence to challenge the bureaucracy they face and to negotiate time to teach.
"This means all the signatories (to the CfE Tackling Bureaucracy Report) should be working to ensure that, finally, a collegiate structure is in place in all establishments where all views are welcomed, valued and considered in the decision making process.
"Our members need to develop a confidence and a willingness to challenge bureaucracy."