14 December 2020

Created on: 11 Dec 2020 | Last modified: 19 Nov 2021



The Institute has launched a social media campaign, “Not At All Costs”, highlighting member concerns, as raised in the November survey, through a series of “briefing papers”.

The campaign launched on Friday 11th December with an open letter to the First Minister, reminding her that whilst members are supportive of keeping the schools open – this was “not at all costs”.

Briefings have been drawn up, based on comments that were left within the November member survey. The first 3 briefings on the experiences of behaviour in the classroom, teaching in Level 4 areas and concerns of members in vulnerable groups have already been published and sent to the First Minister for her consideration. The remaining briefings will be published on our social media platforms during the course of this week, and we will tag the First Minister into each post to highlight member concerns.

The campaign will run until 18th December. Members active on social media are asked to:

  • Reshare our messages on Twitter and Facebook

  • Share messages of support using our hashtag #NotAtAllCosts

  • Share their own views, tagging the First Minister and Deputy First Minister into their responses

  • Email the First Minister and Deputy First Minister directly quoting the campaign message of “Not At All Costs”

Local Association Ballots

At present, a number of EIS Local Associations are balloting members on the principle of declaring a dispute with their local authority over school COVID-19 safety.

The catalyst for these ballots has been the rejection of the EIS call for a move to teaching and learning via remote online platforms for the pre and post-Christmas period, in the interests of minimising infection risk and protecting the health and wellbeing of students, teachers and their families over the festive season, coupled with recent experience of being in a Level 4 area without additional mitigations being considered.

Read here the letter from the General Secretary to the DFM and his reply.

COVID Testing

Members are reminded that asymptomatic testing for teachers should be available on request. Some issues regarding access were raised with the Scottish Government and these should have been addressed. Advice on how to access such testing can be found here.

Additionally, last week’s CERG meeting discussed the potential for widespread use of lateral flow tests and PCR (home kit) testing being made available for students and staff. Pilots are being conducted in a number of schools in January and the possible use of such approaches, particularly in Level 4 areas, is being discussed. As the EIS has called for proactive and regular testing to be introduced, we have welcomed this development.

SQA Alternative Cerfitication of N5

Some of the early communication from the SQA on the alternative certification of N5 suggested that prelims should take place as usual for these candidates. The EIS has raised this with SQA who have since agreed that with the cancellation of the exam diet, there is no need for prelims (practice for final exams) to take place.

The running of prelims in the usual way to generate key assessment evidence for large N5 cohorts would:

  • incur COVID infection risk;

  • generate additional workload for teachers and students;

  • use up swathes of valuable learning and teaching time;

  • be contrary to the wellbeing principle of the Recovery Curriculum;

  • create equity issues.

We are clear that assessment of N5 students’ work should be classroom based and timed to suit the needs of learners such that they are best able to demonstrate the full extent of their knowledge and skills in the area of the course being assessed at any given time. 

More information related to the alternative certification process for N5 was published on Tuesday 8th December and can be accessed here.

SQA Higher and Advanced Higher

In light of the continuing disruption caused by COVID 19, on 8th December the Deputy First Minister (DFM) announced the cancellation of the Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet. 

Although it came much later than we would have wished, the EIS has welcomed the Deputy First Minister’s announcement, judging the cancellation of the exams to be in the interests of equity and of wellbeing, both of students and teachers who have faced prolonged uncertainty in relation to many aspects of school life, final course assessment significant among them.

The SQA has indicated that although the alternative certification model for Higher and Advanced Higher will broadly mirror that for N5, there will be more flexibility around the nature of the learner evidence that can be used to inform awards. This is likely to have implications for school-based decisions around prelims. The EIS considers that our advice around prelims for N5 is applicable to Higher and Advanced Higher where prelims are not already underway.

SQA Generated Workload

The Institute has repeatedly stressed to both the SQA and to Scottish Government that alternative assessment arrangements, including cross marking exercises and understanding standards events, are significant generators of additional workload which cannot be accommodated alongside existing arrangements.

In spite of SQA’s earlier rejection of our request that teachers be paid for the marking of key assessment items in lieu of final exams, the EIS continued to press on members’ behalf for remuneration for this additional activity. We therefore welcome the DFM’s announcement of a one-off payment to teachers involved in delivering N5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications this year and we will be engaging Scottish Government on the detail of this. The EIS believes this must be a substantial rather than a token payment, in recognition of the additional workload associated with the alternative assessment model.

Nationally the EIS will push for further workload alleviations, e.g.  funding for supply staff to backfill “marking days”, removal of elements of current WTA arrangements to free up the time, and further inset days.

For more information, visit EIS FAQs on the alternative assessment of NQ courses.

Final Reminder: EIS-FELA Ballot

The National Executive of EIS-FELA opened a consultative ballot on industrial action which will close at 12pm tomorrow (Tuesday 15th December) in support of its campaign to oppose the replacement of lecturer posts by Instructor Assessors - who seem to have the same teaching duties as lecturers but less favourable terms and conditions such as less pay, increased weekly teaching time, no preparation and correction time, fewer holidays, no right to permanency after 3 years and no professional registration or access to teaching qualifications (such as TQFE). Please use your vote.

Council Nominations 2021/2022

The EIS Council is the principal executive committee of the EIS. It meets around five times a year, usually in Edinburgh, and at the AGM.

Nomination forms for members interested in standing for election to Council for 2021/22 are available from your Local Association Secretary and from the EIS website.

TUC Reps' Training

Training is available for all school reps, both new and experienced, and for activists interested in becoming an EIS rep. The EIS is offering an online 4 day TUC accredited Reps Training course (broken into 2 x 2 days) , which will take place over the 25th and 26th of February and 29th and 30th of April 2021. 

If you are interested please contact your Local Association Secretary and then register with Jennifer Cook on JCook@eis.org.uk.

H&S Reps' Training

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 Covid-19. The EIS is offering a 2 day TUC accredited Health and Safety Reps training course which will take place online this year on the 28th and 29th of January 2021.

If you are interested please contact your Local Association Secretary and then register with Jennifer Cook on JCook@eis.org.uk.

EIS Equality Video Series: Taking Action on Gender-Based Violence 

10th December marked the end of 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence, but our commitment and action for gender equality, must go on. During 16 Days, National Officer, Equality Selma Augestad spoke to four experts on GBV about our understanding of GBV, and how teachers can make a difference. To watch and share our video series visit Taking Action on Gender-Based Violence.  

Opportunity for Disabled Members

Tuesday 19th January, time tbc

The EIS is hosting an online event for members who identify as disabled, or who have access or communication difficulties, on the 19th of January. The meeting will be an opportunity to network, discuss support and share good practice. We are in the process of surveying disabled members on the most optimal time to meet.

1000 Women's Voice: Recording Women's Experiences and Resilience During Covid-19

Throughout this time, women have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic in the caring and teaching professions, whilst also bearing the brunt of exacerbated gender inequality in unpaid house and caring work.

Too often, women’s contributions go unrecognised. In recognition of this, and to document women’s contributions to history as it happens, the EIS are looking for one thousand members to record their experiences of health, homelife, paid and unpaid work during this time. The questions should take around ten minutes to answer and will inform EIS policy and campaigning.

A look back at the Recent Blended and Remote Learning Webinar

At the start of December, over 100 members joined EIS and Education Scotland for a professional learning webinar on the topic of Blended and Remote Learning. 

Professional Learning Opportunities Available in January

For all upcoming opportunities, please regularly visit the Courses we Offer page.

  • Teacher Health and Wellbeing – starting Tuesday 12th January 2021
  • Learning for Sustainability: An Active Learning Approach – starting Monday 18th January 2021
  • Developing Awareness of the Mental Health Needs of Children and Young People in Secondary and FE Settings – Wednesday 20th January 2021, with pre-self-study.

The latest Professional Learning Blog, Things I’m glad to know as I learn and teach online, offers tried and tested resources around the theory and practice of delivering learning online.

Consultation with Teachers

Education Scotland would like to talk to teachers about how they get information, help and support with Glow. The information gathered from the study will help them design better information, help and support services for Glow.

Teachers who take part in this small study will receive a £20 Amazon e-Gift card as a thank you. The session will be by phone or video call and will last for no more than one hour. Calls with teachers will be in their own time outside of working hours.