Low Teacher Confidence with New Qualifications

Low Teacher Confidence with New Qualifications

The SSTA has completed a survey of its members as to the level of confidence in implementing the new Higher Qualifications. The response from members has indicated a low level of confidence in teachers’ ability to deliver and assess their pupils in the New Qualifications.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said, “The situation that teachers face in schools today in trying to do the best for their young people is extremely worrying. Teachers are lacking confidence in a major part of their work and there appears to be a lack of understanding or realisation of those bodies that are there to help deliver the new qualifications.

“Teachers are again trying to make the system work despite the lack of support whilst bureaucracy is continuing to increase. Teachers cannot be expected to continue to work under these conditions”.

The survey shows that 40% of teachers lack confidence in their abilities to deliver appropriate course materials for the New Higher and 75% in Advanced Higher. In relation to teachers ability to assess their pupils 59% lack confidence in New Higher and 85% in Advance Higher.

  • New Higher Qualifications: confidence in the ability to deliver appropriate course materials - 33% not confident and 7% not confident at all
  • New Higher Qualifications: confidence in the ability to assess your pupils - 12% not confident and 47% not confident at all
  • New Advanced Higher Qualifications: confidence in the ability to deliver appropriate course materials - 39% not confident and 36% not confident at all
  • New Advanced Higher Qualifications: confidence in the ability to assess your pupils - 44% not confident and 41% not confident at all

When it came to the satisfaction of teachers with the various bodies that are there to support teachers in implementing the New Qualifications the survey highlighted the apparent ineffectiveness of these agencies.

Satisfaction with sources of support in implementing the New Qualifications:

Education Scotland – not satisfied 54%
SQA – not satisfied 63%
Local Authority – not satisfied 58%
School – not satisfied 34%

Comments made by SSTA members

“At no point in the working week do I feel absolutely confident that changes have not been made to the arrangement documents. I dread glancing at my email during the day, only to find that some change or other has been made because I have not time nor opportunity to find out what I should now know and do.”

“There is a lack of time to develop new material or, indeed, to get my head around the differences between the old Higher and the new Higher Modern Studies course. Moreover, there is a lack of resources and we are constantly reminded of our budgetary constraints and the need, therefore, to cut down on photocopying and printing.”

“It's us on the ground that are creating these courses based on very vague information from the SQA, no support from anyone else. All work created that is supposed to help always comes a year too late (understanding standards events for example). No consistency in anything, all depends on who you speak to and what council they work for.”

“I am confident because I have a principal teacher who is a workaholic and spends a great deal of his time preparing material. However, this should not be how it has to be. Many teachers have a family and are sacrificing work life balance for the kids they teach!”

“The amount of re-assessment is around three times than it was under the previous system and re-assessment materials are not easily available. Instead teachers are having to spend vast amounts of time generating re-assessment questions.”

“More than ever I am relying on the informal network of contacts I have established throughout my career. This is particularly important in subjects with single teacher departments housed in larger faculties where development work rests with one person.”

“I have been teaching for over 30 years and have never felt so ill prepared and low in confidence in my ability to deliver courses.”

Euan Duncan, SSTA President said

“The high level of response to this survey highlights the inconsistencies that exist between departments, schools and local authorities. It is a matter of serious concern that teachers are not feeling confident and ready to assess the exam work of young people. With workload at an all-time high it is hardly surprising that teachers are continuing to report damagingly high levels of work-related stress. While this has been recognised by government and employers, there is an urgent need for employers, SQA and Education Scotland to move beyond statements of support into real, tangible, recognisable action.”
Further information from
Seamus Searson
General Secretary
0131 313 7300

18 January 2016


Please note that the survey was taken over a two week period with 1244 responses