Created on: 01 Jun 2020
You will now all be aware that the Scottish government has published plans around the easing of lockdown and a careful and safe process to return to work. Please click on the link to see the most up to date national advice.
Q How are the plans for recovery proceeding?
A We are aware that many members are anxious about returning to school, and that many are keen to do so as soon as possible (often because of the strain of working at home).
EIS Fife has involvement in both the primary and secondary recovery groups, and will have representation on the sub groups, too. We have recently written to the Service outlining our desire to work together to facilitate a safe return to school for pupils and teachers. We have asked for the service to do risk assessments for each individual school before schools re-open. We have also raised a number of areas for discussion based on your views.
Q When will teachers be expected back in school?
A When it is safe to do so. The Service have not given a firm date and will undertake safety checks and risk assessments first and these will take some time. EIS Health and Safety reps will also have a role in the risk assessments from an early stage. The National Recovery document says staff will be back in school at some point in the month of June in order to undertake the specific task of preparing for August (i.e. not as a normal place of work, or a place from where to set work for classes, etc. This will continue to be done at home).
Q Can I go into school to do work there now?
A Whilst the government guidance on this has changed any return to the workplace should only be progressed following a strict safe and risk assessed process. The EIS advice remains. Please see the advice above. Your union is working at Fife level to ensure that any return follows that advice. We realise that there will need to be variations to some agreement from school to school however the guidance is clear that this should be done in consultation and with the involvement of the union locally.
Q When will pupils be back in school?
A The vast majority of pupils will only return to the school building from 11th August. This will be the new start date, and only if the “3 red lines” are met (which are detailed at https://www.eis.org.uk/Coronavirus/ReopeningSchools). Other than that, only a small number of vulnerable pupils will be in school, e.g. to touch base with pastoral staff. Nursery to P1 and P7 to S1 transistion pupils may also have some time in school in late June. Early years transition pupils would be accompanied by a parent/carer.
Q If school is starting back a week early, does that mean I am losing a week of my holiday entitlement?
A No, teachers are still entitled to that week at another time (e.g. finishing a week early this year, finishing a week early before next year’s Summer holidays, or taking those days at some other point in the next session.) This has to be agreed at LNCT level. National guidance on this is due and EIS Fife have not yet agreed a new date for the holidays, because we will be consulting our membership.
Q What if I have childcare or other caring commitments which will make it difficult to return to school? What about if I have shielding responisbilities, or if I have underlying health issues,or if I’m preganant?
A A recent national survey found that 33% of teachers have childcare commitments that would make it difficult for them to return to school. We have made this point at LNCT level and the Service agreed that the capacity of schools will have to be reviewed. As is the case now, national public health guidance will determine to position for those with shieldig resposbibilities or health issues.
Q What are the plans for the upcoming Inset Day on 2nd June?
A It was made clear at the LNCT Meeting on Tuesday 26th May that there is NO expectation that teachers will be in school on INSET Day and this will be further confirmed by the Service to HTs at a meeting on Wednesday 27th. Shelagh Maclean should be informed via Wilma Pirie (firstname.lastname@example.org) if this is not the case in your school.
Q I have concerns about the SQA estimates process. What should I do?
A The SQA estimates process has been a massive undertaking, done in a very tight time frame. The EIS position on estimates is absolutely clear: the estimates set by class teachers, in discussion with their colleagues, should not be overturned by the SQA. We know that all secondary teachers in Fife want to get this right. If any teacher feels they have been put under pressure to give a grade that is not supported by the evidence they have, it is important that they discuss this with their line manager and a union rep. Members are further advised to ask for clarification in writing about any changes they are asked to make.
Q What is the position on the Working Time Agreement for next year?
A The SNCT has issued a circular on WTA’s in the current crisis which can be accessed by opening the following link https://www.snct.org.uk/library/2722/JS-20-79%20WTAs%20Session%202020_21%20FINAL.pdf
Working Time Agreements are very important in controlling workload and it’s important to note that they must be agreed at school level. A copy of the recent SNCT advice on WTAs has been emailed out to reps. In essence, there are a number of challenges in setting a WTA for next year, not least the uncertainty about what working conditions will be like. So it does not seem prudent, in most cases to proceed. A new Fife LNCT agreement on WTAs was recently ratified, but has not yet been formally issued, which further impedes the ability to take this forward.
If members within schools nevertheless choose to negotiate and agree a WTA for next year, it should be on the understanding that this will be reviewed at intervals.
Q I normally have reasonable adjustments when working at home. What should I do?
A You should discuss whether these same adjustments need to be made/adapted for Working at Home with your line manager.
Q At Local Authority level we are moving schools to move away from the current CPD online (Sopra) system to that of recording professional learning using the MyPL tool on the GTCS website.
A From August 2020 all registered teaching staff are to begin using MyPL for professional learning and PRD/PU purposes. We will not have access to CPD online records from end of June 2020. What does this mean for me?
We advise you to download your PRD record from Soprahosting, so that this can be used for future reference. Sign into the system and click on download past reviews RTF. Then save, and should you wish to do so print for your own records. PRD meetings will have to be conducted with current guidance in mind (e.g. on the phone or an online meeting). Members in their PU year have an extension until October but may nevertheless wish to deal with this in the Summer term, since the start of the new session is likely to be a time of big change.
For any further local EIS enquiries please contact your Local Association Officials on email@example.com