Created on: 07 Jan 2022 | Last modified: 10 Jan 2022
As members will be aware, significant changes to Covid guidelines were announced by the Scottish Government over the Festive period. These were unilateral decisions by Government, without discussion, directly or within CERG (Covid Education Recovery Group), with the EIS re the potential impact on educational establishments.
It remains to be seen as to whether the changes to self-isolation rules, both for those infected and for close contacts, improve or worsen the situation.
We have asked for access to the scientific data on the risk associated with reducing 10 days, for positive cases, to 7 (with 2 clear LFTS on Day 6 and 7). The FM said it was a “judgment” call which means it could lead, potentially, to increasing infection levels in a school and therefore be counterproductive re staffing availability.
Members have raised concerns around the efficacy of a pupil/parent controlled close contact regime of 7 LFTs to avoid self-isolation. We have asked the question of SG, that if these LFTs are to be reported over 7 days, who are they reported to and how is the situation monitored? We have also asked as to who supplies LFTs for pupils and for further advice to be offered to schools on how this is all to be managed.
As schools return, all previous risk assessments require to be revisited, including individual risk assessments for staff who are at greater risk. Support, if required, is available in this process from Local Associations and/or Area Officers and Organisers.
Ventilation remains key but Councils have a duty also to ensure that classrooms are warm enough, either through the provision of additional heating sources or higher system settings. Where either of these areas remains a concern, members should seek support from their school rep or Local Association Secretary to resolve matters.
Members are encouraged to make full use of LFTs available to them and, also, where applicable, to get booster jags or first/second vaccinations doses.
The updated schools guidance, including self-isolation rules, can be found here.
The EIS’s own guidance for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Special Education Primary, Special Education Secondary and IMTs has also been updated to reflect the relevant changes to the Scottish Government schools guidance.
The workload survey, referenced elsewhere in this bulletin, evidences the huge effort teachers have made to support education continuity over the period of the pandemic. Recognition of that often seems scant but the EIS is very clear about the critical role of educators. Hopefully, 2022 will see the worst of the pandemic behind us.
Further updates will be issued as appropriate.
The Scottish Government guidance in relation to COVID19 in further and higher education institutions can be found here. This advice is regularly updated in response to developments in the pandemic, including the rise in prevalence of the Omicron variant. All members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the latest version of the guidance, its steering principles and the content of ministerial letters to institutions included within the documentation. Please inform your branch officials, or full-time officer, if you hold concerns regarding your institution’s plans for the new semester in relation to what is outlined in the Scottish Government Guidance.
Staff members in both colleges and universities are subject to the changes to self-isolation / contact procedures that are outlined elsewhere in this bulletin. Again, all members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with guidance in relation to self-isolation / contact procedures. The updated advice from NHS Scotland can be found here.
As in schools, EIS members in further and higher education continue to step up to the challenges of the pandemic. Please seek support from your branch, or the EIS centrally, if you have any concerns regarding COVID19 mitigation at your institution.
The EIS Salaries Committee met on 16 December 2021 to consider a revised pay offer from COSLA and agreed to hold a consultative ballot of members on its terms, with a unanimous recommendation to reject. The revised offer does not meet our pay claim that was lodged in December 2020 and fails to meet the needs of teaching professionals.
After nearly a year of negotiation COSLA and Scottish Government have failed to provide a reasonable and fair pay offer. Members must now send a clear message to both COSLA and Scottish Government and vote to reject this offer.
The ballot, which will be conducted electronically, will open on Thursday 13 January 2022. Please check that the email address we have for you is up to date. Members who haven’t provided an email address will receive a written communication.
Members are urged to use their vote so that COSLA and Scottish Government are left in no doubt as to the scale of teacher dissatisfaction at an offer that represents a sub-inflationary increase at a time of increasing cost of living.
The Salaries Committee view this latest offer as unacceptable and unfair. It fails to even maintain the value of teachers’ pay and it fails to recognise the value of teachers and education. By way of comparison, MSPs have just been awarded a 3.4% pay increase from April of this year!
Please vote early and vote to reject.
The EIS recently conducted a major survey looking at the key issues facing teachers in Scotland today: workload, COVID-19 and their health and wellbeing at work.
Amongst the key workload-related findings in the EIS survey are:
88% of teachers indicated that their workload burden has increased during the pandemic.
61% of teachers report that workload levels have increased “significantly” during this period.
80% of Secondary teachers reported significantly increased workload related to SQA qualifications.
The vast majority of teachers (93%) work above their contracted hours each week.
45% of full-time teachers work more than 8 extra hours every week – equivalent to over one extra full day of work each week, over and above contractual commitments.
The EIS report is based on the views of more than 16,000 teachers across Scotland who responded to an online survey in November. You can read the report in full here.
Elections to the GTCS Council convening in April 2022 open today, with the deadline for voting being midday on Friday 11 February.
The EIS is committed to ensuring strong teacher voice within GTCS Council and to this end is supporting a full complement of candidates across the range of vacancies in the Primary, Secondary and FE Categories.
Congratulations to Annemarie Harley who has been elected unopposed in the FE category.
You can play your part in ensuring that the voice of the teaching profession is spoken and heard on GTCS Council by voting for all remaining EIS supported candidates in the Primary and Secondary categories. You can read their election statements and access GTCS’s online voting here.
The planning assumption from both SQA and SG remains that the 2022 Diet will proceed as planned.
No further course modifications are envisaged by the SQA.
Omicron clearly presents a challenge around disrupted teaching and learning, however, with the situation being closely monitored. The EIS is pressing for additional support to be prioritised in this area and for the SQA to communicate clearly and timeously to schools.
SQA guidance remains that there are no requirements for any additional assessment of students than that which would be planned within a normal year in which an exam diet features. The EIS is clear that with the planning assumption remaining that exams will go ahead, there should be no demands placed upon teachers to gather or students to produce additional assessment evidence ‘just in case’ and/or for teachers to engage in additional quality assurance activity over and above that already planned for.
It remains the case that all SQA-related workload must be capable of being overtaken within the parameters of the 35-hour working week.
Updates will be issued as appropriate.