Teachers have warned the Education Minister that some of his assessment plans for schools may be unworkable. Delegates at an education conference staged by the Educational Institute of Scotland at the weekend repeatedly urged Peter Peacock to re-examine his proposals to extend personal learning plans (PLPs) for 3-14s.
These have assumed greater importance because they will form the basis of yearly summaries of pupils' performance and future learning needs which will appear in new "annual progress plans" intended to replace the present system of reporting to parents.
Mr Peacock anticipated the pressure he would come under by acknowledging the reservations about PLPs. In a departure from his prepared text, he said: "I am very acutely conscious that there are concerns that PLPs could lead to extra bureaucracy.
"I want to say to you very clearly that they are not about creating extra bureaucracy. They are about placing dialogue between teachers and pupils at the heart of classroom practice."
Having flagged his intention to start consultations early next year on "reinvigorating the parental agenda", Mr Peacock said he wanted to put PLPs and progress reports at the heart of involving parents in children's learning and encouraging dialogue between home and schools.
Eric Baillie, a senior EIS delegate from Dundee, told Mr Peacock that personal learning plans would have "significant implications for workload" if the intention is to introduce them by 2007.
Mr Baillie suggested a review of the extent to which workload had been reduced under the teachers' agreement to see if the extra work involved in producing PLPs could be accommodated in the 35-hour week. Bill Ramsay, another EIS executive council member, also warned that extra staff would be necessary.
But Mr Peacock parried their concerns, repeating his determination to ensure that PLPs "do not become bureaucratic burdens". He added: "We will not impose a single system from on high, which is why we are piloting PLPs and getting feedback from professionals."
He reminded his audience that 3,000 extra teachers would be in post by 2007. "At a time when school rolls are set to decline significantly, this means more resources will be going into schools than ever before," he said.
Philip Rycroft, head of the schools group at the Scottish Executive Education Department, later gave an added assurance that personal learning plans could not be introduced unless the profession was behind them.