Teachers Being Made to Change Reports, Claims Whistleblower

By Peterkin, Tom | Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland), November 4, 2018 | Go to article overview

Teachers Being Made to Change Reports, Claims Whistleblower


Peterkin, Tom, Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland)


Teachers in Scotland are being pressurised by management to change the wording of school reports and adjust pupils' attainment levels upwards, it has been claimed.

The claim that "bullying tactics" are being used against teachers to improve pupils' results has been made in a letter to Nicola Sturgeon from an anonymous teacher.

The letter paints a bleak picture of Scottish education, claiming the system is in crisis and people are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals from their schools or local authorities.

The author said the letter had been written in order to speak out about the "volatile situation" that Scottish education finds itself in and lists complaints including the workload, an "authoritarian" culture and the bureaucratic burden placed on teachers.

The letter, which was also sent to the Lib Dems, has come to light at a time when Sturgeon and John Swinney, the Education Secretary, are under intense pressure over their handling of the education brief.

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, is embroiled in a damaging row with the Scottish Government and the local authorities' body, Cosla, over pay.

Teachers are demanding a 10 per cent rise to make up for years of austerity and the EIS is urging its members to reject a Scottish Government/ Cosla offer and has opened a ballot on industrial action.

Swinney was attacked by opponents for persisting with tests for pupils in primary one despite Holyrood voting against them.

Last week Scottish Government data showed the number of primary schools forced to share headteachers had risen by almost two thirds to 390 since 2010.

Sturgeon and Swinney have staked their political reputations on closing the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils.

But questions about how pupils are assessed were raised in the anonymous letter, which claimed teachers were often "gagged" by management when it came to school reports.

"In my experience, we as teachers are often gagged by management as to how honest we can be in our reports," the author said.

"I am not the only teacher who has been asked (read: told) to change the wording or tracking indicators in my reports to make it more positive. This is a disturbing and insidious practice. I am a big believer in positive reinforcement and restorative practice but we should never be asked to put a positive spin on a pupil's academic performance or behaviour if it cannot be justified, let alone backed up by evidence."

The teacher claimed "appeasing" parents in this way distorted reality and kept them from complaining. …

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