Q1: What is the aim of the action?
The most immediate aim is to achieve an acceptable timetable for a significant reduction in unit assessment, and associated workload, across National Qualifications but most particularly at National 5 and 6 levels.
Q2: What exactly does "withdrawal of cooperation” mean?
A range of possible initial actions is being developed and will be issued on commencement of the industrial action.
Such actions are likely to include, by way of example, refusing to provide cover for colleagues absent on SQA business; boycotting "audit trail” marking of units in favour of light touch holistic marking; non-attendance at SQA seminars; strict application of WTAs in relation to development work, SIPs, and action plans; explicit cognisance of contractual obligations (35 hour week) with regard to SQA related workload.
Q3: Does this mean I should stop marking unit assessments?
No, not in the initial stages of the action. The focus of the first phase of the action is the "bureaucracy” surrounding SQA procedures which we are seeking to tackle without jeopardising students’ qualifications.
SQA has made clear that whilst students sitting only the external exam and course work elements would be graded on those submissions they would not be given an overall award.
It is regrettable that SQA seems willing to penalise students in this way but it makes a boycott of internal assessments more of a nuclear option for us, and one which we will not be deploying in the first phase of the campaign.
Q4: Who are we in dispute with – SQA?
Legally, we can only be in dispute with local authorities as our employers, although the remedies being sought lie with SQA. Ultimately, it is our employers who dictate that we comply with the SQA procedures which have given rise to the excessive workload.
Q5: I am an SQA marker/nominee. Should I be resigning my post?
The EIS recognises that many members will have contractual commitments with SQA. As the union does not have negotiating rights with the SQA as an employer, it would be wrong and potentially illegal for us to issue advice on this matter.
Any decision on a contractual arrangement with SQA would be a personal one.
Q6: Will I be acting individually in this dispute?
No. It is essential to the success of this action that members act collectively, supporting each other and speaking with one voice wherever possible. To this end it is important that school branch meetings are held to discuss HQ advice and each school’s local action points for the campaign.
Q7: Will I be asked to boycott all SQA work?
No. Members are not being advised to boycott SQA related activities but rather to ensure that all such work lies within the bounds of contractual requirements and is properly resourced and accounted for in terms of time and resources.
Q8: Is this a "work to contract”?
In the context of this particular campaign the singular focus is SQA generated workload rather than an all-encompassing "work to contract”.
Q9: Can I be "deemed” for taking part in this action?
An employer could decide not to accept "partial performance” of the contract and move to deem individual members involved in the action to be in breach of contract, thereafter seeking to deduct a full day’s pay for every day in which "partial performance” of the contract had been deemed to have taken place.
Given that our employers have indicated their understanding that the main locus of remedy to the current dispute lies beyond them, essentially with Scottish Government and the SQA, it is not anticipated that there will be such an aggressive management response, however.
In the event that a member is informed that she/he will be deemed to be in breach of contract as a result of action taken as part of a work to contract, the member should inform immediately her/his school Rep who will alert the Local Association and HQ and further advice will be issued as required.
Q10: Will I be asked to boycott extra-curricular activities?
Members are not being advised to withdraw from what might be termed extra-curricular areas
Q11: Will I be asked to resign my appointment as an SQA marker / nominee etc?
As the EIS is not a recognised union with regard to the SQA as an employer, separate contractual arrangements between members who work for the SQA in a variety of capacities are legally beyond the scope of this proposed action.
It will be for members themselves to decide on their attitude to offering their services in the context of action short of strike.
Q12: What am I being asked to do as part of the campaign?
Members are advised to apply strictly to their school’s WTAs in relation to development work, SIPs, and action plans. In addition explicit cognisance should be taken of contractual obligations (35 hour week) with regard to SQA related workload.
Time required to comply with SQA marking processes should not be considered as part of an individual teacher’s preparation and correction time.
Q13: Am I being asked to boycott SQA development work?
The advice indicates that SQA related development work should be undertaken only where a time resource is identified and made available. Any work which cannot be undertaken in the time allocated should be identified and brought to the attention of your line manager with a view to direction on what work is to be prioritised.
Q14. Does this action apply to members who are attending SQA course on ‘Understanding the Standards?
Yes. The advice to members is that they should not apply or volunteer participation in any external SQA seminars unless they are fully funded in terms of external cover being provided. Members should only attend if external cover is fully funded.