Members signalled their growing dissatisfaction with the burdens facing primary teachers and called for a review of the 5-14 programme beyond English language and mathematics. A motion from Renfrewshire on curriculum overcrowding won unanimous backing.
Bill Moffat, a primary head, said teachers had felt intimidated and under stress. "Most of the casework I deal with comes from primary teachers who feel bullied and harassed by their own headteachers," Mr Moffat said. There were huge requirements to produce endless paperwork.
"Anyone who knows anything about primary education knows there is no way in which that incoherent group of documents can be delivered as a curriculum in a primary school," Mr Moffat said. Five to 14 has to stop now and we have to reconsider the whole thing to give the primary school a chance."
Moira McCrossan, the new vice-president, said stress levels in Dumfries and Galloway were running at unprecedented levels. "In the primary sector there is a growing feeling it is impossible to fit everything in. There is nothing more stressful than to do something that is totally impossible," she said.
A resolution calling for a halt to the development of 5-14 environmental studies until it was properly funded was remitted to the executive council, but demands for more specialist primary teachers were endorsed.
Resistance to the environmental studies programme was accompanied by concern that it was eating into more basic needs. Muriel Kidd of North Lanarkshire said environmental studies was supposed to fill 25 per cent of the timetable, only 5 per cent less than the allocation for literacy and numeracy. She said funding for environmental studies was "woefully inadequate, often consisting of a motley collection of outdated topics".
A call for more specialist teachers in the expressive arts and home economics came from Charlotte Smith, Edinburgh, who said that primary teachers were expected to take any class from primary 1 to primary 7 and could no longer cope with the demands of increasingly complex subjects.