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70% of teachers doubt ability to deliver new exams

Pupils will face new tests in 2014 but teaching association is 'hugely concerned that things are not going to be ready in time'.

Teachers doubt new exams possible

Almost three-quarters of teachers lack confidence in their department's ability to deliver new exams, a survey has revealed.

Research carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country's largest teaching union, found 70.9% were either "barely confident" or "not confident at all" about the state of readiness for the exams.

New national 4 and 5 qualifications are being brought in to replace the current Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications from 2013-14.

The change is part of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), but the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association has already said it is "hugely concerned that things are not going to be ready in time", while East Renfrewshire Council has announced it will postpone the introduction by a year.

A survey by the EIS found 91.2% of members who answered the question on their workload said this had increased over the past year because of preparations for the senior phase of the new curriculum.

Meanwhile, 93.2% who gave their opinion on the support needed to bring about the change said extra resources would be necessary for the implementation of the senior phase of the Curriculum for Excellence.

The release of the survey comes ahead of a debate in Holyrood on the reforms.

Larry Flanagan, the general secretary designate of the EIS, said plans to bring in the exams in the school year 2013-14 were "too ambitious".

Earlier this week Education Secretary Mike Russell announced the national body for education is to carry out an audit to check how prepared schools are for the introduction of the new exams.

Education Scotland inspectors will visit every local authority to assess readiness over the next month.

However, Mr Flanagan said: "The overwhelming message from Scotland's secondary teachers is that currently they do not feel confident regarding their school's state of readiness to deliver the senior phase of CfE, particularly the new National qualifications, on the current timetable."

He continued: "The EIS has consistently called for more resources to deliver CfE development, including more time for teachers to work on implementation.

"On the vital issue of the new National qualifications, the EIS has long argued that the current timetable for their introduction is too ambitious and that a one-year delay, or at the very least a school option for a one-year delay, should be agreed to allow all teachers the time to become comfortable with the detail of the new exams."

Mr Flanagan said: "The Scottish Government must heed the warnings of secondary teachers on the timetable and agree to a comprehensive package of additional resources to support schools, including allowing schools to exercise a one-year delay where it is required."

Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry also said there was "widespread anxiety" amongst teachers and parents about the new qualifications.

He said: "It's time to listen to the professionals who will deliver the new exams.

"Teachers across Scotland are saying they are not ready and the materials are not ready. We need to listen to parents who can't get answers to reasonable questions put to teachers."

He told Mr Russell: "A carefully managed delay is far better than chaos and confusion."

Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "I don't believe that any of us in this chamber can tell exactly how many schools are ready and how many schools are not. What I do believe is that the schools themselves can tell us and they must be allowed to."

Mr Russell said the Scottish Government was currently in discussion with the EIS over the points of concern it had raised, including additional support and resources.

He said: "Just over 2000 teachers, from a total of 25,750 secondary teachers in Scotland, answered this survey.

"The voice of any one teacher must be heard, however, we need to bear in mind that this survey represents 8% of the secondary-school teacher workforce.

"An equally important number is the 54,000 pupils currently in S2 we should see through the advantages of Curriculum for Excellence who will take the new exams in 2013."

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