The EIS has welcomed the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is to be scrapped.

The announcement came following the publication of the OECD Review of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which identified a ‘disconnect’ between the core aims of CfE and Scotland’s qualifications system.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS welcomes the publication of the OECD report, and the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary that the SQA is to be scrapped and replaced by a new body. It is essential that any new body is properly configured and is accountable to the profession through a model of governance based on educational, rather than political, considerations and with a teacher voice at its heart.”

On the OECD report, Mr Flanagan said, “The OECD report highlights some of the strengths of the Scottish Education system, not least being Scotland’s place in the top 5 nations in the world regarding global competency, but it also confirms what the EIS has been saying for a number of years, which is that there is a disconnect between the BGE (Broad General Education 3-15) and the Senior Phase (15-18). There is massive assessment overload in the senior phase, which squeezes out the time needed for both depth and breadth of learning – two of CfE’s big ambitions. This overload is also the driver of excessive workload, and that has been exposed clearly during the pandemic.

“The comparatively high level of teacher class contact time was another area highlighted, with the OECD highlighting the need for reduction in class contact time – a key priority for the EIS – if teachers are to be able to collaborate around curriculum and assessment. We welcome that EIS lobbying in this area has already had some impact, with the Scottish Government pledging to deliver an early reduction of 1.5 hours per week in teachers’ class contact time to bring Scotland closer to OECD norms.”

Mr Flanagan continued, “The report also seems to confirm that the Government’s focus on Standardised National Assessments has been a monumental distraction with little impact other than adding to the bureaucracy that bedevils teachers’ working lives.

“The absence of any comment on the pre-5 sector is both disappointing and worrying. CfE runs from 3-18 but we are seeing a continuing reduction in the number of nursery teachers deployed in early years, which is a betrayal of the Scottish Government’s previous commitment to protecting the role of the teacher in pre 5 provision.”