Workload worries over CfE

24th May 2013 at 01:00
Almost 90 per cent of teachers say they have more to do as a result of changes

The assumption that primaries are "already doing Curriculum for Excellence" and its introduction would have minimal impact has been undermined by a major survey showing a hike in workload as a result of the reforms.

Of the 3,868 primary and nursery teachers who responded to the survey, conducted by the EIS union, almost 90 per cent reported that their workload had increased in the past year thanks to the new curriculum, with more than 80 per cent rating the increase as "high" or "very high".

The teachers called for better exemplification of CfE standards, more funding to support it and extra training. The findings highlighted the "growing workload burden" being placed on primary and nursery teachers, said EIS president Susan Quinn, who is a primary head.

"There is a widely held belief within the education community that CfE is further along in the pre-5 and primary sector compared with the secondary and further education sectors," Ms Quinn said. "While there may be an element of truth in this, it is certainly not the case that implementing CfE is a simple matter for teachers in these sectors."

The survey also found that teachers lack of confidence in tracking student progress within CfE.

More than half were either "barely confident" or "not confident at all" in forms of assessment associated with CfE, with more than 60 per cent describing current methods of gauging progress through the achievement levels - developing, consolidating and secure - as "barely useful" or "not useful at all".

Almost two-thirds warned that these categories - found in the "Building the Curriculum 5" document - were being used as part of a "tick box approach" to the measurement of Curriculum for Excellence, a problem highlighted in TESS last week when Ken Muir, director of inspection at Education Scotland, criticised schools that required teachers regularly to complete "highly complex tick-box grids".

"It was interesting to note just last week that the head of Education Scotland's team of school inspectors was critical of growing levels of (red tape) imposed on teachers in the name of CfE," Ms Quinn said. "Clearly, this is not what CfE is supposed to be about."

Other findings from the survey included:

  • nearly half of teachers said the quality and level of moderation support from local authorities and Education Scotland was "unsatisfactory";
  • more than half of P7 teachers described P7 profiling - introduced under CfE to ease transition - as "not very useful" in supporting the move to secondary;
  • almost half described forward planning as "excessive" (47 per cent).
    • The survey follows a similar poll of secondary staff earlier this year that found "significant concerns over resources, support and information, workload and timescale".

      Responding to the idea that primary teacher workload was increasing under CfE, one of the architects of the curriculum, Keir Bloomer, said that would continue to be the case with any major reform until Scotland "improved its change processes".

      But it was teachers themselves who had insisted on more guidance in connection with CfE, not the government, he pointed out.

      Last week, the EIS launched a campaign to challenge excessive teacher workload and said it would carry out an escalating campaign of action unless the Scottish government addressed teachers' "increasingly unmanageable workload".

      In response, the government said its commitment to teachers and education was shown through "the strong financial settlements agreed with local government". A package of support and resources had recently been provided to support the implementation of CfE, it added.

      emma.seith@tess.co.uk.

      Photo credit: Getty

      Original headline: CfE reforms have caused workload hike, survey finds

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