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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
EIS presses for Higher Still answer
Maths class
Continuous assessment is a key feature of Higher Still
Scotland's biggest teaching union is pressing for an early announcement about the result of a survey into the Higher Still exam system.

The EIS has complained about the "intolerable workload" generated by the exams following their introduction in 1999.

Last year, teachers threatened to strike unless the situation improved.

Since then, a survey has been carried out looking at how to address the overall issue of internal assessment, a key feature of the system intended to remove some of the emphasis on exams.

EIS banner
The union has threatened to strike

The EIS has written to Education Minister Cathy Jamieson calling for the outcome to be published soon so that changes can be made in time for the new school year.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said a statement would be made to parliament next month.

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said the workload burden had impacted on teachers and students.

He said he was unsure whether the Higher Still was the "most sensible" option.

'Tail wags dog'

Candidates have to pass at least three internal assessments before they are allowed to sit their final paper.

Last year, delegates at the EIS conference voted unanimously to ballot on strike action unless the situation improved.

Since then, some changes have been made to cut the workload, but not in all subjects.

Mr Smith said he believed the "assessment tail was wagging the dog".

'Assessment burden'

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme he said: "We are looking at an educational question here.

"About whether or not it is sensible to have a scheme that is so assessment-driven that it interferes with the vital process of teaching and learning - which is what we are all about.

"There is a huge assessment burden."

Mark Irvine, of the General Teaching Council in Scotland, said: "The McCrone agreement was and is a landmark agreement for Scottish schools, but the proof in the pudding is in what it delivers.

"It is about how the agreement flows through to schools and changes working practices and really brings about a revolution in how the job is done.

"So far, it has failed to live up to those very high expectations."

Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary
"The assessment tail is wagging the dog"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Scotland
New Highers 'penalising' pupils
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Teachers vote for boycott
04 Jun 01 | Scotland
Teachers plan exam boycott vote
15 Aug 00 | Scotland
EIS seeks Higher Still review
21 Nov 98 | Education
Union confirms exam reforms boycott
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