SSTA Challenges Chief Inspector’s statement on reducing teacher workload

The SSTA conducted a survey of members following the publication on 29 August 2016 of Education Scotland’s “Curriculum for Excellence: A Statement for Practitioners from HM Chief Inspector of Education” document.

Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary said “the Chief Inspector’s Statement to Teachers on addressing teacher workload has been widely rejected by secondary school teachers across Scotland”.

In response to the survey, 68% of SSTA members said the advice would not have an impact in reducing teacher workload. A further 14% said the advice would actually increase their workload.

In relation to reductions in workload within the National Qualifications 75% said it would have no impact with 14% saying it would increase teacher workload.

When broken down further on some of the elements that create teacher workload the members’ responses were

  • Assessment - 65% no impact with14% saying it would increase workload
  • Forward Planning - 67% no impact with 14% saying it would increase workload
  • Monitoring and Reporting - 70% no impact 15% said it would increase workload
  • Self-Evaluation and Improvement Planning - 71% no impact with 17% saying it would increase workload

Seamus Searson said “the document started well and gave a direction of travel that is welcome. However the document failed to give clear direction to headteachers and teachers in the classroom of what is required within the teacher working week”.

“Secondary school teachers want clear guidance on what is expected of them. SSTA believes that teachers should be allowed to focus on teaching and learning and ask themselves a simple question ‘is what I have been asked to do necessary for teaching and learning? Should the answer be no then it should not be done”.

Euan Duncan, SSTA President said “this survey vindicates the union’s decision to conduct a ballot for industrial action to protect teachers from excessive and unnecessary workload. More needs to be done by the government and employers to reduce teacher workload”.

Some additional comments from the survey

“Our head teacher has advised us to ignore the advice for reducing our workload outlined in this document as we may have an inspection this year”

“In our school they fear there will be an inspection this year. Our head teacher at a CL meeting stated very clearly that we were not to follow the guidelines issued in the "Curriculum for Excellence: A Statement for Practitioners from HM Chief Inspector of Education".

“We have been told by our head to "disregard" the document because HMIE speak with "forked tongue," and that, despite their advice they will be looking to see in place the very things they are advising us not to continue doing.”

“The reality for me is that we are using a large number of the areas which HMIe say 'Avoid Doing' because it is council policy to do them. There will be no reduction in workload unless schools and councils are made to implement reductions in workload”

Concern with the document is that is bears very little resemblance to what is actually happening in schools and in classrooms.

SSTA calls for all local authorities to issue the clear instruction to all Head Teachers to review and change current demands of overwork staff in light of the publication of this definite statement.

Individual teachers do not have the professional autonomy to simply ignore current instructions and policies in order to implement the changes suggested in this statement.

Note to the Editor

The survey began on 31 August and on 14 September had 776 responses.

SSTA National Executive sanctioned the formal postal ballot for Industrial Action on reducing Teacher Workload. The Ballot commenced on the 14 September and closes on 30 September.