Update from The General Secretary 20 April

Created on: 20 Apr 2020 | Last modified: 01 Mar 2021

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Message from the General Secretary

Dear Colleague

With all schools and colleges now returned after the Easter break, this bulletin contains a number of updates on recent developments, which I hope you find useful.

There has been some unhelpful media speculation over the weekend regarding the possibility of schools reopening soon as part of a phased economic recovery from lockdown.

The Scottish Government, however, moved quickly to quell speculation that it was considering such an approach and indeed UK Government spokespersons also rejected the claim as far as England is concerned.

Schools and colleges undoubtedly will reopen at some point, and that will be good news, but the EIS view is that this cannot happen until it is possible for establishments to operate in a safe manner with preventative measures in place to  protect both staff and students, and to prevent a spread of infection.

Current social distancing directives would be impossible to apply in a normal school environment, for example, and at the moment the country does not appear to have the necessary capacity to "detect, test and trace" the spread of the COVID 19 virus, which would seem to be an absolute prerequisite for educational establishments reopening.

For the foreseeable future, therefore, remote teaching and learning will be the norm. Fresh advice and support for this endeavour is indicated below from both the EIS and others.

Over the next few weeks, as discussion develops around next steps for Scottish Education, the EIS will continue to represent the interests of members and the service we deliver. Regular updates will be issued.

Stay safe


Supporting Pupils, Parents & Teachers - Learning During Term 4

The Scottish Government has issued today a headline guidance paper around the summer term. It provides some useful guidelines around the need to focus on supporting the health and well-being of pupils; on being realistic on what can be achieved through remote learning; on the need to adapt normal practice in areas such as reporting; on being mindful of the equity gap which remote learning may exacerbate;  and also a promise of additional support to teachers from Education Scotland.

The report can be found here.

Advice for Members on Reporting During School Closure

The EIS has produced advice to support collegiate discussion in schools on plans for report writing in Term 4. It can be accessed here.

They should be read in conjunction with the Working from Home Guidelines.


The SQA has just issued its advice on submitting estimates for this 2019/20 diet. It has been published on the SQA website.

The Institute has a clear view that the exercise of professional judgement by teachers is a sound basis for making this year's awards.

Whilst the statistical measures being deployed by the SQA may add an element of external validation to the process, the key issue is the integrity of the estimates which should not be compromised by additional pressures from any source. 

FAQs – Update on Payment for Supply Teachers

Please see the new and updated FAQs for the latest information on pay for teachers undertaking ad-hoc supply work.

The FAQs across a range of issues are updated regularly with new answers or changes highlighted in red.

Coming Very Soon… New EIS Working at Home Resource

Look out for the launch later this week of a new resource to support members working at home.

The Working at Home (WaH) resource is packed with ideas on how you can look after your health and wellbeing while balancing work, family and home life all under one roof; with suggestions and signposts to help with lockdown learning and teaching; and with advice and resources aimed at supporting your professional learning during school closure, including on using digital methods for remote learning.

As well as providing information and ideas on a range of related topics, and with ideas for lockdown learning being replenished weekly, the WaH will provide opportunities for you to share your experiences of teaching, learning and looking after your wellbeing as we handle the current crisis, with the EIS.

The WaH is due to go live on the EIS website on Wednesday – please check it out.

EIS Donates to EI Action Appeal

The EIS has donated £10,000 to Education International’s COVID-19 Response Solidarity Fund. The fund is to help teacher unions with limited resources respond to the crisis more effectively as across the globe, teachers work harder than ever to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the communities they serve.

Specifically, the Response Fund will help teacher unions in challenging circumstances:

  • continue to function and to communicate internally and externally;
  • work to ensure respect for human and trade union rights, which may be under renewed attack during this crisis;
  • defend unpaid or dismissed teachers;
  • advocate against for-profit private education initiatives (in the context of distance learning); and
  • undertake activities that address increases in child labour and gender-based violence.


A separate FELA newsletter has been issued but as part of this all member bulletin, FELA members should take note of the following:

  • Survey of Students: EIS/FELA has been conducting a survey of students. Many of you may have asked your students to complete this survey. 

    However, some college managers are challenging the survey on the basis that it breaches GDPR by using student email addresses. As a result of initial legal advice and to protect the interests of the Institute and FELA, we are now advising members not to ask students to complete the survey, at this stage. Further advice will be issued later.
  • SQA: FELA representatives have met with the SQA to press home the urgent need for sector specific advice, which takes account of the range of FE qualifications offered and the diverse nature of the student cohort in colleges.

    SQA has indicated that it is in the process of finalising subject specific guidance which should be with colleges on Wednesday. It will then review the guidance document and add additional useful appendices to be circulated by either this Friday or next Monday.
  • Keep Shetland College Public: On Tuesday 21 April at 12pm we are asking everyone to join our action across our social media platforms to highlight the concerns of our college members in Shetland.

    We will be posting from the @EISFela Twitter account as well as the EIS FELA Shetland College Facebook page. Using the #KeepShetlandCollegePublic hashtag we are going to be asking people to share our campaign materials and contact elected representatives to raise our concerns.


The General Teaching Council recently published a useful guide to online safety and protocols, which can be found here.