Teaching Unions Write to DFM Urging Caution Over Schools Re-Opening

Scotland’s teaching unions have sent a letter to Deputy First Minister John Swinney, urging caution over the eventual re-opening of schools and calling for clarity on a potential August partial return for pupils and teachers.

The Teachers' Panel of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) urged the Scottish Government not to replicate the 'cavalier attitude' of the UK Government in announcing an early re-opening of schools – a move which has created 'confusion, concern and fear amongst teachers and parents.'

In the letter, sent today, Des Morris (Salaries Convener of the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Teachers' Side Chair of the SNCT) highlights that, in Scotland, there has been a firm message around staying at home to reduce the spread of the infection. That instruction remains in force for the rest of this month. 

In the letter, Mr Morris goes on to state, "There is a strong argument to maintain a cautionary approach and to reinforce such by indicating schools will reopen after the summer break."

"Not only does that bring clarity to parents, pupils, and teachers, it provides a significant period to plan and prepare for the very real challenge of delivering a blended learning experience for Scotland’s pupils in session 2020/21."

Warning of the risk of a poorly planned return, Mr Morris adds, "A premature and enforced return to schools in June would serve to undermine the necessary commitment of staff, many of whom would be dismayed at an apparent disregard for their views, and also fearful for their own safety."

The letter concludes, "We would again suggest that indicating an aim for an August restart for schools (subject to all the necessary caveats)  would bring enormous benefit in terms of both planning, and securing the active support of staff and parents for an agreed recovery plan focused on the shared aims of equity and excellence and determination to support the well-being of our pupils."

Read a copy of the letter from the SNCT Teachers’ Panel to the Deputy First Minister