Created on: 11 Feb 2022 | Last modified: 11 Feb 2022
As members will have seen the Scottish Government has announced some further relaxation of school covid mitigations, to be introduced from the 28th February. Updated school guidance will be issued by the Scottish Government next week but the main element is the removal of the mandatory need to wear face coverings in classrooms, although they remain in place for communal areas.
In line with our survey findings, the EIS argued for the retention of face coverings until we were through the winter period, the end of March rather than the end of February, but the advice from the scientific sub group held sway. Both pupils and staff have the right to continue to wear face coverings if they wish and in some cases where there is a heightened vulnerability in play, face coverings may still be essential.
The other key changes, to be detailed in the updated guidance, are some relaxation of rules around assemblies and transition visits (although neither of these should amount to a "business as usual" approach).
The EIS highlighted at CERG (Covid Education Recovery Group) the latest figures - over 4,000 staff were absent from school last week for covid related reasons and more than 20,000 pupils – to underline that although there may have been a slight drop, infection levels remain high and are likely to do so for some time. Any notion that we are out of the "covid woods" is misplaced, therefore, making the remaining mitigations around areas such ventilation even more critical to school safety.
School guidelines are next due for review in early March. Whilst it is welcome that the level of serious illness and hospitalisations remains relatively small and stable, covid related absences continue to be disruptive to teaching and learning, placing huge strain on teaching staff. The EIS will continue to press for the greatest caution moving forward.
At the Extended Joint Chairs meeting on 10 February Des Morris, Teachers’ Side Joint Chair and EIS Salaries Convener, confirmed the rejection of the revised pay offer for the 2021/2022 pay claim and negotiations on this continued. The level of support for rejection of the offer, as expressed by members in the recent consultative ballot, was made clear to COSLA and Scottish Government, as was the need for some improvement on the current proposal.
It is now expected that there will be a revised offer by 25 February, if not sooner. Following receipt of this offer the EIS Salaries Committee will again meet to discuss the offer prior to consulting with members as quickly as possible. Salaries Committee is mindful of the need to reach agreement, if possible, before the hiatus of the local government election in order to ensure some payment to members this school session.
The unacceptable and unreasonable delay in settling our pay claim for 2021/22 has been raised in the strongest terms with both COSLA and Scottish Government. If an improved offer is not made by 25 February 2022 the Executive Committee of the EIS will be asked to consider launching a consultative ballot on industrial action.
In addition to negotiations on the 2021 pay claim, the new pay claim for a 10% pay rise from April 2022, which was lodged on 7 February 2022, was acknowledged by both Scottish Government and COSLA Joint Chairs. It was agreed by all sides that the current pay claim for 2021/2022 was the priority for settlement but that negotiations on the pay claim for 2022/2023 should be progressed without delay.
Members will be kept updated on developments and will be given the opportunity to have their say on any revised offer.
The EIS Council for 2022-2023 has now been confirmed. The EIS President for 2022-2023 will be Andrene Bamford, East Dunbartonshire, with Paula McEwan, Inverclyde, as Vice-President. Full details of the results of Council 2022/2023 can be found on the EIS website
The EIS continues to attend Advanced Learning Covid Recovery Group meetings with the Minister and other F&HE stakeholders. The Scottish Government’s Covid Guidance for Colleges & Universities remains unchanged since before Christmas. However, the Scottish Government is revising its Strategic Framework to reflect the current Covid situation and this will lead to revised F&HE guidance soon.
This is expected to herald an increase in face-to-face teaching. Both EIS FELA and EIS ULA Presidents made strong representations to the F&HE Minister Jamie Hepburn in a bilateral meeting earlier this week that staff and students need to be fully safeguarded in any opening up of colleges and universities.
The next phase of the EIS PACT Professional Learning offer designed to support teachers to further mitigate the impact of poverty in the classroom and the wider school starts later this month.
The refreshed programme of online professional learning comprises a series of three short PACT modules which will be delivered by small teams of EIS members - EIS Equality reps, Learning Reps and other interested activists - who have been trained as PACT trainers during the first half of this academic session to share equity-related learning on school policy, ethos and practice with fellow teachers across each of the RIC areas.
The delivery schedule for the EIS PACT professional learning offer, including details of how to note interest, is contained here.
The next meeting of the BAME Network will be on the 22nd February. The meeting will be an opportunity to connect with BAME colleagues, and access relevant information about the EIS and our anti-racism work. An agenda will be circulated in advance.
Stephen Stewart, EIS Pensions and Payroll Specialist, will be holding meetings via Teams at 4pm on Wednesday 2nd March 2022, 4pm Tuesday 15th March 2022 and 4pm Wednesday 30th March 2022.
This is an opportunity for EIS members to raise general queries around pensions and around the McCloud Remedy.
Please email email@example.com if you would like to attend. We are limiting numbers to enable time for questions to be answered and will hold more meetings if required.
Some pensioner members will have been contacted by SPPA in relation to an under or overpayment of pension as a result of errors in the calculation of the GMP component of their pension. SPPA have provided details.
A wide range of online courses being delivered in February and March are now available to book. Topics include:
Leadership and professional identity,
Mental health and wellbeing,
Please visit the EIS Professional Learning Courses & Seminars page to find out more.
Learning resources are available at:
FELA members should have received emails concerning the consultative ballot on the pay dispute. If you have not received your email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, EIS number, address and the name of your establishment.