Teachers face Amazonian forest of paperwork

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STRESSED teachers have complained about an “Amazonian forest” of paperwork preventing them from doing their job.

Teachers across Scotland claim that Government efforts to reduce red tape bureaucracy has failed – despite intervention by ministers to tackle the issue.

The country’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), says ICT (Information, Communication,Technology) systems for writing reports were adding to, rather than alleviating, teachers’ workload.

They say this is preventing proper delivery of the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which stresses creativity and co-operation between subject teachers.

EIS general secretary, Larry Flanagan said: “There is a gap between the rhetoric and the response in the delivering of this report in schools.

“An Amazonian forest worth of paperwork associated with reporting, planning, recording and assessing is being created.

“There is excessive weekly and termly planning, writing or reports and evaluation of lessons, while less time is available for the actual preparation of lessons.

“Reports should be designed for the purposes of teachers, not the other way around.”

54% of schools surveyed so far said that a recent Scottish government report on reducing bureaucracy was failing to have the desired impact on the ground.

The document, released last November, advises schools that ICT planning and reporting systems should be used with caution.

Adding that assessments should be based on evidence, “drawn mainly from day-to-day teaching and learning,” instead of paperwork.

It also calls for schools to move away from “tick-box” approaches to monitoring pupils’ progress.

But Mr Flanagan said that despite the fact that CfE was intended to liberate teachers from pointless bureaucratic tasks, they still faced with daunting and unnecessary.

“Workload issues are engulfing the profession,” he added.

“The quality of the education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.”

20% of schools said that the report had not been distributed to every teacher and 50% had not held a staff meeting about it.

The union also noted concerns that teachers were providing excessive documentation for inspections, despite inspectors insisting they did not need high levels of paperwork.

One teacher, speaking at a teaching conference in Glasgow last week, complained that red tape was “interfering” with the aims of CfE.

“If we do not address these issues, we will never improve the reality in our classrooms.”

A second teacher described it as: “an iceberg of assessment, much of it is below the surface and unseen.”

Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland said: “There is a lot of bureaucracy in schools that is pointless and burdensome.

“This has to be challenged.

“What is not essential has to be ditched, but time has to be made for what is necessary.”

Earlier this year, the EIS published the results of an online survey of 6,000 teachers, which found that excessive workloads were damaging their health.

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