New Qualifications a Bureaucratic Mountain

The SSTA is to conduct an Indicative Survey of its members on the bureaucratic burden associated with the implementation of the New Qualifications. This is in response to SSTA members across Scotland asking for some action to be taken to address the workload that is demoralising teachers in the current qualification cycle.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said “the situation that many teachers face in schools today in trying to do the best for their young people is intolerable. SSTA has listened to members and wants to put in measures to protect them and take teachers away from the bureaucratic mountain and return them to teaching and learning”.

Seamus Searson added “the indicative survey will confirm the association’s view that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue and that new manageable arrangements need to be put in place for this year. The survey in January will highlight measures that teachers can take to reduce workload. Together with our new qualifications and workload survey we will have sufficient evidence to bring about real change.”

The SSTA is currently surveying its members as to their confidence in delivering the New Qualifications. Initial returns indicate that 40% of teachers lack confidence in their ability to deliver the new Higher (Nat 6) qualifications with nearly 50% lacking confidence in their ability to assess the same qualifications. These figures increased to 75% and 84% respectively for the Advanced Higher Qualifications.

The survey is showing that teachers are being required to teach different courses within the same class at the same time. 48% were teaching two courses (e.g. N4 and N5), 24% teaching three courses and 3% teaching 4 courses.

When it came to the additional time required for completing the various tasks required by the SQA:

  • Internal moderation - 25% of teachers were spending more than 10 hours with a further 15% of teachers spending more than 20 hours per course.
  • External verification - 19% of teachers were spending more than 10 hours with 8% spending more than 20 hours.
  • Marking Unit Assessments – 32% of teachers were spending more than 10 hours with 54% spending more than 20 hours
  • Marking Added Value Units – 31% of teachers were spending more than 10 hours with 34% spending more than 20 hours
  • Data entry – 27% of teachers were spending more than 10 hours with 18% spending more than 20 hours

However, when it came to the Working Time Agreements that identify the contractual work required of teachers 81% said they had not been given any additional time to complete the tasks. The findings of the completed survey will be released next week.

Comments made by SSTA members

“Over assessment has created serious workload issues, taking away from teaching and is very demoralising for pupils”

“In 30 years of teaching I have never experienced stress levels and workload issues like I have in the past few years. I feel sorry for the young teachers coming into the profession as their work/life balance is extremely poor”.

“The amount of paperwork surrounding each qualification and the micromanagement of assessment standards is beyond ridiculous”.

Euan Duncan, SSTA President said

“This survey is highlighting the challenge teachers having been dealing with in delivering the new qualifications and the lack of understanding that SQA and employers have in addressing teacher workload. It appears that assessment is being carried out for assessment’s sake and that teachers are not being allowed to develop their teaching”.

Further information from

Seamus Searson
General Secretary
0131 313 7300