Scotland's largest
and most effective
education trade union

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Created: 21 March 2007 | Last Updated: 04 November 2016 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

Our history

For over 160 years we have worked for teachers in Scotland for "the promotion of sound learning".

In the decades that followed, the Institute became a leading policy maker in education and a political force influencing government education policy. The EIS went on to become a negotiating body on teachers’ pay and conditions of service.

In the 1970s we became a fully fledged trade union, affiliated both to the TUC and STUC. The EIS further developed its professional role in the early 21st Century, through appointing Learning Representatives and promoting development opportunities in partnership with a number of universities.

Following a preliminary meeting in January 1847, we were formally constituted at a meeting attended by 600 teachers from all parts of Scotland held in the Royal High School, Edinburgh, on 18 September 1847. Dr Leonhard Schmitz, Rector of the Royal High School, became the first President.

In the first ever EIS Presidential address, Dr Schmitz said that Scotland was the first country in Europe in which a regular system of education had been established and that, on that day, it also became the first country in Europe to establish a 'national association of teachers, resolved and determined to provide their country with the best system of education that they can devise.'

Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the Institute in 1851. The Charter said that the objects of the Institute were to promote sound learning, advance the interests of education in Scotland and certify the qualifications of persons engaged, or desiring to be engaged, in the education of young people in Scotland.

From 1847 to 2010 our membership increased a hundred fold – from 600 teachers at the inaugural meeting in Edinburgh to about 60,000 from all sectors of education – nursery, primary, secondary, special education, and further and higher education.


1847 Founding of the Educational Institute of Scotland "for the purpose of promoting sound learning and of advancing the interests of education in Scotland."

1851 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the EIS. Membership at the time: over 1,800. Among the powers conferred on the EIS was the power to award a degree of "Fellow of the Institute". In 2007, the EIS remains the only trade union which awards degrees.

1900 Increasingly the EIS became involved in matters of pay and conditions of service.

1917 Other small teaching organisations joined the EIS.

1918 National minimum salaries scale for teachers came into operation.

1939 National Joint Council formed. This was the first time that the EIS had been able to negotiate pay and conditions of service on a national level.

1971 The EIS became affiliated to the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

1976 A further education section was established within the EIS.

1977 The EIS became affiliated to the Trades Union Congress.

1982 The Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC) became the national forum for negotiations of pay and conditions of service.

1985 Lecturers in Central Institutions joined the EIS.

1987 The EIS set up a political fund, not for party political purposes, but to protect the ability of the EIS to campaign and to challenge politicians and political decisions.

1988 Lecturers in Colleges of Education joined the EIS.

1994 The AGM approved a new structure and constitution for the EIS and also the setting up of area offices for the first time.

1999 The setting up of the Scottish Parliament, a move long supported by the EIS.

2002 First partnership with a university (University of Paisley) for the delivery of CPD to teachers.

2003 First EIS Learning Representatives appointed. Members of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association join the EIS and a new Self Governing Association (EIS-FELA) is born.

2005 First Chartered Teachers emerge from the partnership with the University of Paisley.

2010 Introduction of new Curriculum for Excellence.

2013 Launch of Make time for Teaching Campaign after EIS survey highlights a heavy workload and lack of support from Scottish Government and the SQA in relation to implementation of CfE.

2015 First EIS Equality Reps appointed taking forward the equality agenda as a whole in schools and further and higher education establishments.

2016 EIS victory after a period of Industrial Action short of Strike Action over level of unit assessments in the new National Qualifications.

EIS History