February 2021

Created on: 19 Feb 2021 | Last modified: 24 Feb 2021

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Return to In-Person Teaching and Learning in Schools 

On 16 February, the First Minster confirmed to Parliament that the first phase of the reopening of schools will commence on Monday 22 February. Until schools can reopen more fully, attendance in schools should be restricted to:

  • Pre-school children,

  • Pupils in P1, P2 and P3,

  • A very small number of senior phase learners on a limited basis to carry out practical tasks for the alternative certification model for national qualifications.

This week has also seen an announcement on a potential second phase which would involve the rest of Primary returning and possible senior phase pupils with physical distancing in place. This remains to be confirmed and is dependent on data from the Phase 1 reopening and, also, public health data on infection levels.

The First Minister’s statement was accompanied by the publication of guidance which is intended to provide clarity on arrangements for school education in Scotland in February/March 2021.

A copy of this guidance is available here. This version highlights key changes to previous guidance documents. These key changes include revised arrangements, expanded arrangements for schools opening, detailed new sections setting out plans for P1-P3 and senior phase, and updated guidance on physical distancing, school transport and face coverings.

While many of the enhanced mitigations fall short of the demands of the EIS, EIS Reps should refer to this guidance when undertaking discussions locally on the reopening of schools. Revised risk assessments should be in place (see below re training.)

Action for Reps: Please make members aware of the updated guidance.

COVID Campaigning - Message the Minister

The Executive Committee has agreed to campaign for the vaccination of teachers in the forthcoming Phase 2 of the vaccination programme, to seek improved ventilation in schools and to seek the provision of medical grade facemasks for teachers.

These lobbying campaigns will begin with members emailing the First Minister, following up with MSPs and local councillors, regarding the vaccination of teachers.

Action for Reps: Encourage members to email the First Minister, and other elected representatives in due course, when these lobbying campaigns are launched.

Guidance for Reopening of Schools 22 February

The Education Department has produced guidance to support members on the reopening of ELC settings and on the initial phased return to ‘in-school’ delivery.  The guidance is sector specific and has been designed to provide practical advice for members in Early Years, those teaching in P1-P3 and those delivering teaching in critical practical work for some learners in the senior phase.

Action for Reps: The guidance can be accessed here.


Updated Advice for Pregnant Employees 

The UK Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees, which applies in Scotland, has been updated. The guidance acknowledges the increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus for women who are less than 28 weeks pregnant and have no underlying health conditions.  Women in this category should only continue working if a risk assessment advises that it is safe to do so. The guidance continues to promote a more cautious approach for women after the 28th week of gestation.

Both the Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on schools reopening and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare services refer to the UK Guidance. 

The Scottish Government Guidance also references the advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and states that schools, ELC settings and local authorities should follow this advice to try to keep the risk of exposure as low as is practicably possible to pregnant employees, particularly in the third trimester. It advises that pregnancy risk assessments should be undertaken with appropriate attention being paid to mental health and wellbeing.

Action for Reps: Please make relevant members aware of the updated guidance.


Our Wellbeing Matters Programme

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.

Action for Reps: Please make members aware of the upcoming programme.


Into Teaching Webinar for Early Career Teachers on Professional Update

Date: Thursday 25th February 

Time: 4.30pm - 6.00pm

This event is for members who are in the first four years of their career, who want advice about ‘Professional Update’. Key speakers are Susan Quinn (EIS Education Convener), Dr Pauline Stephen (GTCS Director of Education, Registration & Professional Learning) and Suki Sangha (EIS Organiser). The webinar will also involve a Q&A session.

Action for Reps: Please invite early career members to register on the EIS Website.


Webinar for Student Teachers

Date: Thursday 25th March

Time: 4.30pm - 6.00pm

A new online Webinar for Student Teachers will take place on Thursday 25th March. The event will feature a panel of key speakers on practice teaching placement issues, student teacher mental health & wellbeing in the context of COVID19 and advice on how student teachers can organise and collectivise within the EIS to solve problems. There will also be a Q&A session with the panel. The content will reflect the issues drawn from the National Student Survey which will close on the 28th February 2021.

Action for Reps: Please engage with student teachers upon their return and encourage them to register for this Webinar.


TUC Training Courses for EIS Reps (Currently Online Courses)

Training is available for all EIS reps, both new and experienced, and for activists interested in becoming an EIS rep. In conjunction with the TUC Education, we will be running an online ‘EIS Representatives Course’ for school-based or college/university-based representatives or those activists contemplating becoming an EIS rep. The course is a 4-day course delivered in 2 x 2-day blocks (separated by a couple of months). There are a few spaces left on the 25-26th February and 29-30th April 2021 course.

Further courses will be delivered on:

  • 25-26th March and May 6-7th 2021

  • 20-21st May and 2-3rd September 2021

Action for Reps: If you, or an activist in your school, wish to attend one of these courses, then please contact your Local Association Secretary in the first instance. Thereafter, please register with Jennifer Cook on JCook@eis.org.uk.


TUC Health and Safety Reps Training

Dates: 13th & 14th May

The EIS is offering a further two-day TUC accredited Health and Safety Reps online training course on the 13th and 14th May 2021. Having a Health & Safety Representative in your workplace is extremely important, as it is a key role which can make a tangible difference to working conditions, especially in the time of COVID19.

Action for Reps: If you are interested in this training course, please contact your Local Association Secretary and then register with Jennifer Cook JCook@eis.org.uk


Phased Return to Schools - Risk Assessment Refresher Training

The EIS previously ran online training on Risk Assessments, Stage 1 and Stage 2. The original national webinars are still available to view on the EIS Website or the EIS Facebook page: Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Given the phased reopening of schools, the Organisers are offering an online Risk Assessment refresher course which is an abridged version of these two courses combined. If you wish to know more, then please contact your local Organiser.

Action for Reps: If you or an activist in your school wish to participate in an online risk assessment refresher course then please contact your local EIS Organiser or LA Secretary.


FELA Disputes

Please show support and solidarity to the following EIS-FELA Disputes:

National Dispute on the use of Instructors instead of Lecturers

All EIS-FELA members are currently being balloted for strike action in defence of their profession. This national dispute centres on the replacement of lecturer posts with other posts at Colleges across the country, to carry out work the EIS believes to be equivalent to the work of lecturers. The EIS believes that this is contrary to national agreements between EIS-FELA and Colleges, including lecturer professionalism and registration with the GTCS.


Forth Valley College Dispute on Instructor/Assessors

All EIS-FELA members at Forth Valley College are currently being balloted for strike action. The dispute centres on Forth Valley College’s use of a compulsory redundancy process to persuade some lecturers to accept alternative employment as instructors/assessors; and the expansion of instructors/assessors posts at the College to carry out work the EIS believes to be equivalent to the work of lecturers, contrary to national agreements.

Action for Reps: Please show solidarity with members taking action by posting on Facebook or Twitter – don’t forget to tag @eisforthvalley #collegesNeedLecturers