A north teaching union boss is backing calls for Scotland’s new education secretary to reform the system ahead of the publication of a major review.
NASUWT Scotland insist the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report into Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the starting point for a revamp.
They are urging Shirley-Anne Somerville to use the document’s publication next month to look at the system.
The Highland leader of another teaching union branded NASUWT’s calls for change “hard to argue against”.
Alistair Bell, the local secretary for EIS, is also supporting efforts to change the education system.
He said the OECD had been held up by the coronavirus crisis but he wants to see progress as the recovery from Covid-19 begins.
Mr Bell said: “Clearly, progress on this review will have been hampered by the current pandemic and I can see why this could be seen as an opportunity to do more than review the education system within Scotland.
“However, with recovery key, concentrating on aspects that will directly impact upon this recovery could be seen as the priority.
“Like addressing crippling workloads through such things as employing more teachers, cutting class sizes and reducing class contact time.
‘An education system with teacher empowerment’
“Certainly, all major parties promised significant moves to address the above points, and it will need to be seen how well they deliver these promises. We would hope that they all work collaboratively for the good of all involved with every school community across the entire country.
“It would be hard to argue against calls for an education system which had teacher empowerment as one of its core values, which supported staff to become the best they can be, and which fully trusted the professionalism of its staff.”
The NASUWT claim that as it stands the Curriculum for Excellence leaves teachers with “increasing bureaucracy and workload” and places pupils “under additional stress.”
Union chiefs also highlight last year’s fall out over assessments for secondary school pupils as another reason for change.
Results came from teacher estimates from work submitted over the academic year but the SQA lowered thousands of results using a moderation system.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The Covid crisis and the associated fallout around assessment and qualifications has emphasised the fault lines that have grown in the education system in Scotland.
“The introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence was supposed to signal a move towards a broad learning experience in which the needs of all pupils would be recognised and teachers would be supported to make the most of their skills and expertise.
Gutted to be missing out on the Cabinet photo today but delighted to be taking over as Cab Sec for Education. I’ll be getting straight to work this afternoon from home. https://t.co/y0bxZrGeFj
— Shirley-Anne Somerville (@S_A_Somerville) May 19, 2021
“Instead we have seen an increase in assessment of pupils which has driven teaching to the test, swamping teachers in increasing bureaucracy and workload and putting pupils under additional stress.
‘A system that is genuinely world-class’
“The combination of the current crisis and the reflective opportunity afforded by the imminent OECD review report on CfE provides a chance to look again at how we can build a more sustainable and resilient education system with class teachers at its core, and who are realistically supported in meeting the needs of our young people.
“We will be pressing the new education secretary to recognise the need for a change of direction so we can build a system which is genuinely world-class and which equips all children and young people with the skills, confidence and knowledge to thrive.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In the last year, teaching and non-teaching staff in our schools and early learning and childcare settings have performed extraordinarily under challenging circumstances. They have refocussed their work to support pupils in a range of imaginative, creative and stimulating ways.
“The OECD’s report, which is expected to be published by the end of June, provides a positive opportunity to secure improvement and to look at how we work together to achieve this.
“We share NASUWT’s desire to nurture an environment that has at its core the highest quality of learning and teaching. We look forward to working constructively with the teachers’ union and all other stakeholders to ensure we achieve what is best for our children and young people.”