Almost half of teachers believe new Highers will fail

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ALMOST half of Scotland’s high school teachers are concerned that the introduction of new Higher exam qualifications will fail.

A poll of more than 1,3000 teachers throughout Scotland found 44 per cent were “not at all confident” that the new Higher qualifications would be introduced successfully.

The new National qualifications replaced Standard Grades this summer.

But teachers are questioning the support available to helping them deliver the new Highers.

Only one per cent of teachers described the support as “excellent” with 65 per cent saying it was “poor”.

Teachers’ unions and other key educational bodies gave evidence on the introduction of the new qualifications to the Scottish Parliament’s education committee.

The unions representing secondary teachers informed MSPs they were “extremely anxious” about the introduction of the new Highers because not enough support was available from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The study by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) also highlighted teachers’ concerns over the rising workload which has seen many teachers working up to 60 hours a week to keep up.

The poll also revealed that 82 per cent of teachers felt schools had taken no action to “lessen or control” the additional burden.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “An assessment of last years has to acknowledge that the workload burden that was faced by teachers in schools is simply unsustainable.

“We think in terms of moving forward we have to recognise…an exceptional effort to deliver the qualifications, but it does need to be addressed. We seem to be getting a report of last year and we said this was unsustainable.

“The single biggest resource missing is time for teachers to actually assimilate material and have a professional dialogue around implementation.”

Concerns were also voiced the Scotland organiser of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, Jane Peckham.

She said: “I think teachers still feel extremely anxious about the next phase. It would be foolish to think we are over the worse.”

Terry Lanagan from the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland said the introduction was always going to be a talking point. He said: “ I think it is to everyone’s credit that the first set of National qualifications and first exams went so smoothly.

“I am quite clear, with 37 years working in education, that there has been no initiative in Scottish education during that time where there has been more communication or more support.”

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