SECONDARY school teachers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action over the “excessive” workload caused by Scotland’s new exams.
A total of 93 per cent of EIS union members who took part in the ballot backed taking action, with just 7 per cent against.
The huge vote in favour sends a very clear message that teachers have had enough.Larry Flanagan
Any action would stop short of a strike but would see teachers “working to contract” by boycotting any additional work and assessment related to the new qualifications.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “This overwhelming result demonstrates the depth of anger and frustration that secondary teachers are experiencing in relation to excessive qualifications workload.
“The huge vote in favour of industrial action and the high turnout in the ballot send a very clear message that teachers have had enough.
“Assessment overload, particularly in relation to National 5 and National 6 Unit Assessments and SQA verification procedures, continues to place a huge strain on pupils and teachers alike.
“Action is needed, and quickly, to reduce this unsustainable workload burden.”
Almost half – 46 per cent – of eligible members took part in the ballot, with 7,175 voting in favour of taking industrial action while 537 were against.
It comes after new National 4 and 5 Qualifications were brought in to replace the old Standard Grade exams last year, with schools given the option to phase in new Higher exams this year.
Union leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about the “huge burden” this places on school staff. Mr Flanagan stated: “Scottish teachers have worked exceedingly hard over the past two years to ensure that the new qualifications were delivered without detriment to the pupils who were the first to experience them.
“The willingness of teachers to go that extra mile, and the excessive nature of the workload pressure created, has been acknowledged by most parties, including the Scottish Government, but little has been done. That needs to change.”
The EIS executive committee will consider the result of the ballot early next month, with the general secretary adding that in the meantime they would seek discussions with the Scottish Government, councils and the Scottish Qualifications Authority “in the hope of reaching agreement on a constructive way forward on cutting qualifications related workload”.
Mr Flanagan added: “However, should these discussions prove unsuccessful EIS members have displayed a clear willingness to embark on industrial action until steps are taken to reduce excessive workload and streamline assessment procedures.”
The union has now called for more talks with the Scottish government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority. If the talks are not successful, there could be a legally-standing vote in the new year followed by a boycott.