Notwithstanding the First Minister's announcement on the return to face to face learning for nursery children and P1-P3 pupils, the EIS continues to argue that a blended learning approach, which reduced the numbers in classrooms, would have been a more cautious stance than that being adopted. The EIS press release can be read here.
The rejection of the use of medical grade face masks, already used in other countries, seems short-sighted given the need to guard against any increased risk of aerosol transmission and we will be pressing for higher-grade mask protection for school staff, alongside improved ventilation approaches.
The introduction of physical distancing amongst the limited number of senior phase pupils who will be in school to undertake essential practical coursework is welcomed but will clearly impact on any future stage of a phased return.
Members with heightened vulnerabilities who might be involved in the initial return are entitled to a revised bespoke risk assessment and should seek support from either their school rep or the Local Association Secretary to pursue this. The EIS default position is that we believe members in this category should be accommodated in continuing to work remotely.
The First Minister declined to commit to the inclusion of teachers and school staff as part of the second phase of vaccinations. The EIS Executive Committee meets this Friday and will consider the details of a membership lobbying campaign on this issue as it seems perverse to claim to prioritise education but fail to prioritise education staff for the vaccine.
Scottish Government guidance on the opening of schools has been updated in a number of areas and is available here.
Yesterday saw publication by the SQA of further detail around the Alternative Certification Model (ACM), which has been revised to take account of lockdown and the implications of continued remote learning. The detail can be accessed here.
The submission date for final estimates has been pushed back until June 25th in an attempt to maximise potential in-school time for staff and pupils but clearly there are assumptions made within the timelines that some level of face to face teaching will be possible across April to June. How that is managed is effectively a separate discussion within the Covid Education Recovery Group (CERG) and ultimately is dependent on Scottish Government decisions.
Members will have heard the First Minister announce a one-off payment of £400 per teacher re the additional work associated with the proposals, and also two additional in-service days. The payment is related to the quality assurance processes outlined in the ACM, which will involve a greater degree of understanding standards activity as well as cross marking and standardisation processes. The assumption is that these will be approached as whole department exercises and so all Secondary teaching staff, not solely those with N5, Higher and Advanced Higher classes, should be involved and therefore entitled to the additional payment (although the detailed mechanism around this has yet to be finalised).
Throughout discussion with the SQA the EIS has argued for the absolute primacy of teacher professional judgement, which indeed is central to the ACM. The EIS has also highlighted the issues surrounding teacher workload currently and in addition to pushing for the additional payment and additional in-service time, have stressed the need for deprioritisation of less pressing matters to free up time for the delivery of the ACM.
The EIS Education Department will be issuing advice to members around the ACM.
The UK government has now published a response to the consultation on proposals to remove the age discrimination identified in the McCloud litigation, via a deferred choice underpin (DCU).
SPPA have issued Teachers Circular 2021/02 in response to the above which includes a frequently asked questions appendix.
The key points for members are:
This decision follows a series of landmark judgments (McCloud) that declared various government reforms of public sector schemes unlawful due to age discrimination.
Under the 2015 reforms, older teachers were entitled to transitional protection and able to remain in their original schemes, while younger teachers were forced to move to the new CARE schemes.
The government has opted to proceed with a deferred choice underpin (DCU) route for implementing a remedy to the McCloud judgment for public sector workers including members of the Teachers’ Schemes.
In the consultation response, the Treasury said members will not need to decide whether to remain in the legacy (final salary) or reformed scheme (CARE) until they are approaching retirement. Not all members are better off in the final salary schemes, so it is important that individual members can choose which scheme benefits they want to receive.
The DCU route received the most amount of support from respondents to the initial consultation (including EIS) and will impact members who accrued benefits in affected schemes between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2022. The EIS response is available here.
What Happens Next?
From, 1 April 2022, all final salary schemes will be closed, and all members will be transitioned to the CARE scheme. Under the remedy, there will also be no tapered approach to accrual of benefits for the 2015 to 2022 period. The choice will be for one benefit structure only for this period.
Legislation is required to implement the deferred choice underpin changes to the pension schemes. It is expected that this will go before parliament later in 2021.
Provisions for the deferred choice will be implemented by 1 October 2023 for all members. SPPA may be able to implement provisions for deferred choice earlier where it is possible to do so.
Members who have retired before the DCU is implemented and have a period of relevant service between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2022, will be offered a choice once the legislative changes have been made to implement the DCU. The choice will be retrospective and backdated to the point that payment of pension benefits commenced.
Summer 2021 retirements will be calculated on members existing accrued benefits.
Scheme members do not need to do anything at present, SPPA will contact members in due course.
EIS FELA are currently holding a statutory ballot in an ongoing national dispute regarding de-professionalising of lecturer positions in Colleges across Scotland. All EIS-FELA members who are balloted are urged to Get Out The Vote and to vote YES for industrial action. The ballot will close on Thursday 25th February.
The EIS Benevolent Fund is funded from donations received from the EIS, Local Associations and third parties and is available to members who have been in membership for at least one year or their dependents and former members of the Institute.
Anyone suffering from financial hardship due to unexpected illness, long term health problems or a sudden change in financial circumstances may be eligible for support from the Fund.
For further information or to request an application form please contact your local association, who will put you in touch with your local Benevolent Fund correspondent in the first instance.
Members in FELA & ULA please contact your Branch Secretary or Clare Clark, Benevolent Fund Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Glasgow Science Centre has posted a comprehensive round up of their free resources on the EIS Professional Learning Blog. Read the blog here, to access resources from newsletters, to learning festivals.
With the first four sessions of the programme booked up, we bring you the second round, which will explore wellbeing and its relation to food, being online, and through a human rights perspective. Please visit the programme page to find out more and book your place on any of the Tuesday sessions.
If you are unable to join us, there will be a host of free resources related to each topic on the programme page following each session.
So far, over 500 EIS women have responded to our call, documenting their stories of work and homelife during the pandemic.
We are recording history in the making. Will you add your voice, and help further the goal of amplifying one thousand women’s stories on International Women’s Day, on the 8th March? Take part here.
As part of the EIS Anti-Racist Strategy 2020-2021, a series of learning activities has taken place in collaboration with the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE), funded by Scottish Union Learning. Our website has now been updated with learning material developed from these sessions, including poetry from the writer and poet Hannah Lavery, videos provided by SAMEE exploring key aspects of racial inequality, and a written learning resource for Reps, giving practical guidance to support you in taking anti-racism forward in your workplace. Further versions for HTs and DHTS, and BAME members will be available shortly.
Applications are now open for the EIS Action Research Grants 2021-22 programme. EIS members can access £500 of funding to facilitate both learning and action and, in doing so, offer teaching professionals the opportunity for personal and professional development. Researchers are further supported by regular peer-support meetings and guidance from academic partners to enhance their projects and wider professional learning. EIS Action Researchers go on to present at conferences and events across Scotland and share their findings with the wider sector.
For a list of possible topics and information on how to apply, visit the EIS website.
Members are invited to take part in an EIS professional learning webinar on the topic of Online and Remote Learning, showcasing good practice from teachers across the sector. Participants will also be able to take part in a panel Q&A with presenters, discussing the challenges and opportunities of digital pedagogy for online and remote learning for the pandemic and beyond.
Wednesday 24th February 2021, 16:30-18:00. The webinar will be hosted online via Zoom. Further details and a registration form can be found on the EIS Website.