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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Teachers vote for boycott
Maths class
Teachers say they are under too much pressure
Delegates from Scotland's largest teaching union have voted unanimously in favour of boycotting internal assessments on Higher Still courses.

The annual general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), taking place in Perth, debated the issue for more than an hour on Friday.

The new Higher Still courses put much more emphasis on testing pupils' progress throughout the school year, but teachers have warned they are being swamped by the extra work it is generating.

Higher candidates now have to pass at least three internal assessments before they are allowed to sit their final exam.

EIS banner
The boycott was debated at the EIS conference
But pupils can re-take the tests.

The teachers agreed on the boycott despite news on Thursday that Education Minister Jack McConnell is taking steps to stop the burden on the internal assessments.

The EIS will now contact the minister for urgent talks on what can be done to reduce the amount of classroom testing before the start of the new school year in August.

If they fail to reach agreement on the issue will go to a full ballot of EIS secondary school members.

Teachers believe their time would be better spent teaching course material and they claim the tests also mean pupils sitting four or five Highers are under considerable pressure.

'Radical reduction'

It is widely accepted that the Higher Still programme is still an uneasy mix of continuous testing and academic exams.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS, said after the vote: "I think from the debate there was a very clear message that teachers continue to be deeply disappointed with the current arrangements.

"It was argued that the move was taking away time for teaching and putting additional stress on youngsters who seem to be on an assessment treadmill."

He added: "There is a mandate to do something and I think the government and ourselves should sit down and see how we can move things forward."

Responding to the vote, Mr McConnell said he was committed to reducing the burden.

He said: "We have already promised to reduce the burden of internal assessments for pupils and teachers.

"This vote is unnecessary and any boycott will be unprofessional. Teachers should put pupils first and the EIS should think again."

See also:

07 Jun 01 | UK Education
06 Jun 01 | UK Education
19 Apr 01 | Scotland
15 Aug 00 | Scotland
21 Nov 98 | UK Education
07 Nov 00 | Scotland
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