The initial findings of a major survey, carried out by the EIS, has highlighted the successes of Scottish education in facing the difficulties presented by the COVID-19  pandemic but also warned of some challenges that must be overcome for schools to partially re-open.

Over 26,000 EIS members – teachers from every local authority in Scotland – took part in the survey.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Over 26,000 teachers have shared their views on education during the COVID-19 crisis. The EIS survey findings illustrate the hard work that teachers and other education staff have put in to support young people during the lockdown."

"The findings also highlight the many challenges that education will continue to face for the foreseeable future. Teachers remain concerned by the prospect of schools potentially re-opening before it is safe to do so, and strongly agree with the need for suitable protections to be put in place prior to any re-opening of schools."

95% of teachers responding to the survey agreed with the conditions that the EIS has identified to be met before schools can safely re-open, with 69% 'strongly agreeing' with the EIS's red lines.

These conditions include an established capacity to 'test, trace and isolate', effective implementation of all health & safety guidelines such as social distancing in schools, and evidence that COVID-19 infection is under control and that schools are safe places to teach and learn.

In terms of the current Hub provision 88% of respondents identified the provision of childcare and educational provision for children of key workers as the most successful aspect of the service, with 51% identifying targeting the most vulnerable to attend as a successful objective.

In terms of remote teaching, 64% identified the lack of access to technology at home as the key barrier for many children in terms of home learning. 

Commenting on these findings, Larry Flanagan said, "Whilst the support for key workers is to be applauded, it is worrying that so many vulnerable children appear not be using the Hub provision as those children are also those most likely to suffer from the digital poverty cited as a barrier to accessing remote teaching."

"Looking ahead to when schools reopen, there is an even more pressing need than normal to address the impact of poverty on children's education."

Sample comments from teachers on a potential re-opening of Scotland's schools

  • As a person 'at risk', I'm not sure I could feel safe in a school with over 1000 pupils. Hundreds of pupils touching desks and using the same equipment that I interact with. A scary and daunting thought.
  • I don’t think schools should reopen until we know where the infection is, and we have a complete overhaul of safety measures, ensuring cleaning, PPE and social distancing are workable.
  • Testing has to be regular and not just once as anyone can catch the virus at any time. It's not safe to return anyone to school if they have not been tested. You are gambling people's lives and too many have lost their lives already. School is meant to be a SAFE haven.
  • Although children do not seem to be badly hit by the virus, they are still going to be mixing closely with each other and going home to their families, potentially spreading the virus and leading to more outbreaks and potential deaths. Our children should not be turned into guinea pigs just so that industry can restart. They have been scared and traumatised by this virus, they need to be returning to schools that feel "normal" and secure.
  • I think social distancing is going to be very hard to manage in schools.
  • I support the conditions outlined by the EIS as, despite the length of the lockdown, we cannot return to schools and risk lives unless unless it is safe to do so. We do not want to risk another peak as it would defeat the purpose of the current lockdown.
  • The EIS has been really supportive during this uncertain time. I have full confidence that things will be made safe before I return to work.