The full results of a major survey, carried out by the EIS, have highlighted the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and warned of challenges that must be overcome for schools to re-open.

Over 26,000 EIS members responded to the online survey – making this the biggest survey of teachers’ opinions to have been carried out in Scotland.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS surveyed its members, to seek teachers’ views on the challenges that have been presented to education during the COVID-19 crisis. We received an unprecedented level of response, with almost 60% of teachers responding to the online survey in just one week. This has given us a very clear picture of the challenges that Scottish education, its pupils and teachers, have faced during the lockdown and will continue to face even once schools re-open following the summer.”

Mr Flanagan continued, “There is much to be encouraged about in these findings, including good provision in Hub schools for the children of key workers and a strong commitment to supporting young people and their families in home learning. There are, however, also some significant causes for concern such as the real challenge of maintaining social distancing in a school environment and how best to ensure that more vulnerable young people and those experiencing disadvantage associated with poverty can receive appropriate support during this crisis. Our survey findings identify many challenges that education will continue to face for months, if not years, to come.”

Many teachers reported largely positive experiences in the way in which their school had responded to the challenges presented by the move to a blend of hub provision and home learning for different groups of pupils. Over one-third (35%) of teachers who responded had been involved in Hub provision in their local authority area, on a voluntary basis. These teachers felt particularly positive about how well provision had been delivered for children of key workers (88%), and about health and safety procedures such as regular handwashing (93%) for pupils and staff.

On social distancing, slightly more than half (51%) felt that there had been clear guidance on who should and shouldn’t be entering Hubs, while just 44% felt that social distancing of 2 metres had been maintained at all times – a serious consideration when considering how schools will operate after re-opening following the summer period.

Looking ahead to the potential for schools re-opening, on a partial basis, teachers identified some significant challenges to be addressed. The vast majority of teachers (93%) believed that the most important issue was a need for clarity over how teaching and learning will be delivered in the next academic year. 77% believed that there was a critical need for adequate time to prepare for the delivery of a more ‘blended’ approach to learning – including both limited time for pupils in a school environment, coupled with significant use of online learning at home. 63% believed that adequate support from their school or local authority would be essential to adjusting to these new methods of delivery.

On the potential models for a return to school, 58% of teachers agreed that certain categories of pupils should be prioritised in a phased return to school, with 23% believing that universal access to provision (on a part-time basis) was the preferable model. Amongst the groups of pupils that teachers believed should potentially be prioritised were children on the child protection register (75%), children identified by social work as having a challenging home environment (72%), children in transition from primary to secondary (60%), children with Additional Support Needs (58%), children of key workers (58%), and children presenting for external qualifications (53%).

Teachers felt generally positive about the level of expectations from their school and from parents regarding the level and type of support for children’s home learning. There was, however, a notable difference between the primary and secondary sectors – with primary teachers significantly more likely to agree that the expectations being placed on them were achievable.

Click here to view a copy of the full Survey report, including comments from teachers on the key issues.

Click here to view a presentation summarising the key survey findings.