Dear EIS members
Though Colleges have now in theory stopped for the summer, many of you will be preparing for the new academic year and the challenges these strange times bring to the sector.
EIS staff and Officers are also continuing to work through the summer months to ensure that when staff and students do return to campuses, we have made them as safe as we can. We continue to work with and input to Scottish Government policy on updating the guidance as we move through the various phases of leaving lockdown.
Yesterday, we received notice from the Government that they are now moving into Phase 3 of the plan to release lockdown restrictions, and this has some implications for our members in FE.
The most important of these changes are that:
From 13th July, time-sensitive, mandatory or regulated skills assessments that are essential to the completion of Modern Apprenticeship/qualifications or to comply with a legal obligation, can resume in colleges. Face-to-face youth work can also resume outdoors from this date.
From 22nd July, Universities and Colleges can have a phased return with a blended model of remote learning and limited on campus learning where this is a priority. In addition, a safe restart of university and college halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (in line with guidance to be published shortly) and Community Learning and Development activity including adult learning can restart in line with published guidance
If you are a member of staff who is required to attend the campus in person, this should only be required with a proper risk assessment in place for your area of work, and where necessary for you as an individual member of staff. At this time the 2m social distancing rules remain in place for College campuses.
If you have any concerns about what you are being asked to do, please contact your local Branch Reps in the first instance.
As it is developed, the most up to date COVID-19 advice can be located on the EIS website.
The FE/HE Minister, Richard Lochhead MSP has instructed the Scottish Funding Council to undertake a review of "Coherent Provision and Sustainability in FE & HE." The EIS is awaiting a timeline and protocol for our engagement with this review but we will be making a submission to this review.
Unfortunately, one of the items for inclusion of this review is the Cumberford Little Report, which we have already raised objection to. We fully intend to play our part in representing the views of staff in the sector throughout the coming review and will fight to see an inclusive, fair and relevant model of funding and provision for Scottish FE. We will update members as this work develops.
To date we have had no response from Colleges Scotland to our pay claim submitted in March. While this is perhaps unsurprising given the current challenges in the sector, we have been assured we will receive a formal response by the end of August. The EIS will update members on the status of the pay claim when we have received that response.
We are seeing a trend in some local branches of Instructors being brought in to what we believe are Lecturer roles. We see this as an attempt to undermine the NWPA. We have raised the matter with Colleges Scotland and with the Minister and will continue to fight against the downgrading of Lecturing posts.
We think this is a coordinated position from the college employers and are asking members and branches to make us aware of any instances of Lecturing posts being replaced with Instructor posts. While this is currently an active issue at Forth Valley College, we believe there is an intention to try and roll this out in other locations.
If this is affecting your workplace, please make your Branch Reps aware of any instances of Lecturers being replaced with Instructors so that we can challenge this and ensure that people are paid fairly, in line with the NWPA for the job they are doing.
A redundancy situation is live at Inverness College. The EIS is supporting the branch and fighting against compulsory job cuts. A petition has been started by the branch to show support for those colleagues who find themselves at risk of redundancy and you can sign it here.
A webinar on Health and Safety was held for members via WebEx. For those who could not attend in person, a video has been put on the website for you to access.
I hope you all have a restful break over the summer and will keep you updated as things develop.
National Officer for HE/FE