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Teachers are struggling to manage the demands being placed on them from the system for determining pupils’ National and Higher grades this year and are calling for additional support and resources to be provided as a matter of urgency.

The Alternative Certification Model, which schools are expected to follow to produce grades this year after exams were cancelled, has effectively transferred the workload of the SQA to teachers and is driving up stress, anxiety and burnout among the profession, teachers have argued.

Members of NASUWT Scotland-The Teachers’ Union attending the Union’s Scotland Annual Conference today have called for the Scottish Government and local authorities to provide additional immediate support to teachers to help them manage the demands, including through the provision of additional supply teachers for schools and extra in-service days.

The NASUWT is also calling for a formal review to be undertaken of the approach to qualifications in 2021.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“There have been monumental deficiencies from the off in the SQA’s approach to and handling of the arrangements for 2021 qualifications and the arrangements put in place are generating significant and unsustainable levels of additional workload for teachers.

“The failure of the SQA to make timely decisions and put in place appropriate systems for determining grades has resulted in schools having insufficient time to undertake what is a mammoth task of preparing assessments, marking and quality assurance.

“Offering a £400 payout to teachers does not come close to remunerating teachers for the additional time they are spending on the grading process and many are rightly furious at the SQA and the Scottish Government for their handling of this situation.

“Teachers are acutely aware of how important these grades are to their students and are doing their best to ensure they are producing grades which are as fair and accurate as possible. However, the certification model is not fit for purpose and the SQA must be held to account for its failings.

“Schools need immediate additional resources to be provided to help alleviate the workload burdens and there needs to be a wider review of the process to ensure lessons are leant for the future, not least because of the uncertainty about the ongoing trajectory and impact of the pandemic on schools.”

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