IN May 2016 shortly after his appointment as Education Secretary John Swinney declared war on workload in the teaching profession.

“One of the significant concerns I have heard is about teacher workload as a consequence of change within the education system,” he said in one of his first speeches in the role.

“I am going to act today to reduce that workload as my first step to improving the performance of Scotland’s schools.”

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Unfortunately, more than two years later, a majority of members surveyed by the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union believe their workload has actually increased.

Bizarrely, this concerning state of affairs is partly down to the unintended consequences of initiatives introduced at the behest of teaching unions to free up more time in the classroom.

One of the major concerns raised in 2016 was the amount of time teachers spent on internal assessments under Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms.

Internal assessments were seen as crucial in supporting the philosophy of CfE to reduce reliance on final exams and move away from a system dominated by “fact cramming”.

However, the way internal assessments were run by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) was seen as overly bureaucratic and time-consuming so Mr Swinney agreed to scrap them. This had two unforseen outcomes.

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The SQA said removing units created a vacuum in the assessment process and set about adding material to the final exam - which teachers say means more work for them and their pupils.

In addition, when it was released internal assessments served an additional purpose as a fall-back for pupils who failed written exams they were brought back for use “in exceptional circumstances”.

With ongoing concerns over the quality of some qualifications such as National 4 this has become a far more common choice amongst teachers themselves, once again adding to workload.