SSTA Response to SQA Appeals Consultation

The SSTA Education Committee met on 17 March 2021 to discuss and agree a collective response to the SQA’s 2021 NQ Appeals Process Consultation on behalf of SSTA members.  You can view the SSTA Response here. SSTA members are, of course, still able to respond individually at https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/96506.html.
In making its response the Committee was mindful of:

  • Teacher workload
  • Fairness to learners
  • Maintaining confidence in National Qualifications
  • The importance of good, clear communication

 The response was uploaded to https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/96506.html at 0915 on 18 March 2021.

Pension pot

Pension Consultation – closes 11 October 2020

The Government are currently consulting with all members of the public sector pension schemes which includes the Scottish Teachers Pension Scheme. This is regarding the unjustified age discrimination in relation to the transitional arrangements to the 2015 pension scheme.
Within the consultation they are asking you, the scheme member, to make a choice. It's very important that you understand what this choice is and the implications that it could have. The consultation paper is 74 pages long and can be summarised in one question.
In 2015 a new Public Sector Career Average Pension Scheme was launched. Depending on your age you were

  1. placed into the career average scheme on the 1 April 2015
  2. given ‘linear taper relief’ which meant that there was a delay before you were moved into the career average scheme or
  3. given protected status which meant that you did not have to go into the new scheme.

Following the McCloud case the Court of Appeal ruled the pension reforms unlawfully discriminated against young members. The government accepted that it was discriminatory on grounds of age and that the situation must be remedied.

The government has interpreted the court ruling that members who were in their original scheme prior to the 1 April 2012 will have the ability to have any service accrued under the new scheme transferred back to their original scheme, up to the 31 March 2022.

At that point, any future benefits accrued by the member will be allocated to the Career Average Scheme that was launched in 2015.

Whilst this is an interesting interpretation of the court ruling, further negotiations on this point are continuing. It's important to note that this is not the question asked in the consultation.

The choice you are being given is that

  1. you should make the selection for your benefits to be moved back to your legacy scheme at the end of the remedy period (31 March 2022) or
  2. you have the ability to delay this choice until the date you decide to retire.

The Government’s Preferred Choice
The governments preferred choice is that you, the member, make the "immediate choice" as to whether you feel your benefits would be better in your original scheme or the Career Average 2015 scheme. Their argument is that this will help them calculate the funding of the schemes going forward.
The SSTA Position
The SSTA Salaries, Pensions and Conditions of Service Committee has considered the consultation and is of the view that it is impossible for you to know which outcome would be best as you will only know your personal situation at the point of retirement.
The SSTA would therefore urge you to vote for the "deferred choice underpinned". This will give you the right, at retirement, to choose the best option that suits you as opposed to the option that suits the government and the pension scheme.
The SSTA will be submitting a detailed response to the government consultation.
How to participate in the consultation
The consultation closes on the 11 October 2020 and we would encourage all members of the pension scheme to indicate their choice.
Your response can be submitted by email using the following address:
Alternatively you can send your response by post to:—
    Pensions Remedy Project Team
    HM Treasury
    1 Horse Guards Road
    SW1A 2HQ
You need to give your name and your superannuation number (GTCS number).
The SSTA suggests you use the attached wording as there is no prescribed format or form that has been provided.
“I am responding as an individual in relation to the consultation addressing the unjustified age discrimination in relation to the transitional arrangements to the 2015 pension scheme.
Following the Court Judgement discussed in the consultation document I wish to express my disappointment at the Government’s interpretation as I do not believe that the proposed action provides adequate remedy.
The legal definition of remedy is “a way of using the legal system to make sure that someone's rights are not taken away from them.” 
The Government has previously set a precedent. It has changed public sector pension schemes on numerous occasions over the last 20 years. Up to and including the pension reforms of 2007/08 any new schemes launched were available to new members, allowing existing members to remain in their legacy scheme.
As it is the proposal that legacy members will be forced into a new pension on 1st April 2022 this will be discrimination on grounds of age which means that remedy has not been given.
In response to question 6 my view is that the “delayed choice underpin” is the fairest of the two options but fails to recognise the rationale of being forced into a new pension.”
You can find links below to the Consultation Paper as well as a brief presentation, produced by the Government Actuary’s Department, for your information and if you have any questions or queries please feel free to contact the Association.

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Response from SSTA Senior Managers’ Advisory Panel


The full repsonse can be downloded as a PDF from here

General comments

Although we are experienced senior leaders in Scottish Education we have found it difficult to respond in full to many of the questions in this consultation because there is a lack of detail with some aspects of the proposed changes. We also believe that many of the proposed changes can be delivered through existing processes and systems.  We would suggest that the legislative landscape for education and children’s services requires clarification and improved connectivity rather than the implementation of new legislative requirements. We also do not believe that the proposed changes encompass the full context of Scottish Education.  For example, some changes can be much more easily delivered by a secondary head teacher with a management team and business support than the head teacher of a large, medium or small primary, a rural school or within the context of a shared headship.


The governance document fails to take into account the often complex context of schools in Scotland. Much of this consultation also focuses on the work and role of head teachers and not on the needs of children and young people. In particular there is insufficient reference or thought given to Additional Support Needs, GIRFEC, corporate parenting or the needs of other vulnerable children. If we really are to achieve a 3-18 educational system then there needs to be a whole systems approach. The proposals in this document fail to deliver such a system.


This consultation assumes that all Head Teachers will have a full understanding of every aspect of their role and all related legislation. However, for various reasons e.g. insufficient training, lack of experience or limited local authority support, this is not true for many Head Teachers. In order to address this many Head Teachers will face increased bureaucracy which in turn will weaken their role as leaders of learning. Head Teachers currently rely on considerable support from local authorities such as HR, Finance, Property, Legal & Admin’ etc. Perhaps an unforeseen consequence would be the increased bureaucracy faced by Head Teachers as they have to spend increased time on these non-teaching functions further weakening their role as leaders of learning.

SSTA Response to Governance Review

SSTA says ‘Put Pupils First – Give Teachers Time to Teach’

The SSTA would argue for a process of review followed by improvements rather than major structural change in its response to ‘Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve excellence and equity in education: A Governance Review’.

The SSTA believe that structural change only diverts energies and resources away from the main challenge of ‘closing the attainment gap’.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said “Unfortunately this review does not include the people and the structures in the school that support teaching and learning. The SSTA believes that the Government needs to place the pupil/teacher relationship at the centre. Teachers need to time to teach and the support system needs to focus on the pupil/teacher relationship and remove the burdens and pressures on teachers’ time”.

“The consultation omits to provide an appropriate level of detail in terms of the roles and responsibilities of the various bodies within the education sector – this mitigates against an informed response. It would be unwise to make crucial decisions on the future of education based on the responses from such a consultation”.

Seamus Searson added “Teachers in the classroom should make the decisions about pupils, supported by the Headteacher and the Local Authority. Schools do not need further delegation; if anything Local Authorities should be taking back some of the duties which have been passed onto schools over the past few years due to financial cut backs”.

Euan Duncan, SSTA President concluded “The difficulties recruiting headteachers reflect the growing unmanageability of the post. It is worth noting that, in identifying the scale of the problem, many experienced depute heads have expressed their reluctance to be enticed by headteacher posts. The prospect of further delegation of responsibilities and funding to headteachers in schools will only worsen the headteacher recruitment crisis. The existing Devolved School Management Guidance and Toolkit allows for a significant degree of devolved decision making at school level”.

Extracts from the SSTA Response
The Local Authority is the management arm of the education system. As the elected representative of the community the Local Authority is the body that needs to play its role in supporting the learning taking place in schools, and where necessary seek improvement. It is essential that local schools feel part of the community. The direction of the school should be determined by the community that is able to see the long term plan and benefits.

Education Scotland should be the implementation arm of the Scottish Government. Education Scotland should be the driving force for curriculum development and excellence. It should see itself as responsible and accountable for the delivery of the curriculum in every school. Education Scotland should not be independent of the schools and Local Authorities but working in partnership with and responsible for the education in our schools.

Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) should not be independent of, but be part of Education Scotland and be a normal part of the partnership with Local Authorities in developing the full potential of the education workforce.

General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) is essential in maintaining a register of teachers, and setting the professional standards of teachers in Scotland.

However, SSTA sees a conflict in GTCS being responsible for the Student Placement System and Teacher Induction Programme as the GTCS moves away from its regulatory function and begins to fulfil the role of the employer.

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is important in its two main roles of accreditation and the awarding qualifications in Scotland. The SQA is not the employer of teachers, but has been allowed to place heavy demands upon teachers and schools that have unbalanced the school system. The SQA through the new regime of National Qualifications has undermined teacher professional judgement, skewed the curriculum and placed impossible burdens on pupils, teachers and schools.

The SSTA's full response to  Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve excellence and equity in education: A Governance Review'  can be downloaded here SSTA Full Response to Governance Review

Further information from:

Seamus Searson
General Secretary

Named Person and Child’s Plan Consultation

The Scottish Government launched a public consultation on complaints concerning functions relating to the Named Person and Child’s Plan. The consultation is open for eight weeks until Friday 30 October 2015 on Citizen Space.

Link to consultation and how to respond: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/girfec/complaints

The Named Person and Child’s Plan are part of the Getting It Right For Every Child approach and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
This consultation document outlines two options for the management of complaints relating to the functions of the Named Person and/or Child’s Plan:

  1. A parent or child will make a complaint to each organisation involved in a matter. This will mean that the complaint is investigated by the organisation or body whose performance is being complained about.
  2. A parent or child will make a complaint to the organisation providing the Named Person or to the organisation acting as the managing authority for complaints made about the Child’s Plan. The complaint, regardless of the number of organisations or issues involved, will be investigated by one point of contact for the parent and child.

If the parent or child is not satisfied with the response to their complaint, and local processes have been exhausted, it is proposed that for both options, they can escalate it to the Scottish Public Sector Ombudsman (SPSO) as an independent arbiter.
These proposals have been developed by the Scottish Government in close partnership with professionals in Health, Education, Social Work and SPSO.

Any responses received after the 30 October 2015 will be considered but cannot be included in the subsequent consultation analysis report or published on the Scottish Government website.

If you would like to return a paper copy of your consultation response you can find the consultation documents on the Scottish Government consultation page here.

Technologies for Learning Strategy

The Scottish Government is developing a Technologies for Learning Strategy which aims to further the use of technology in learning and assessment in a practical and organised way for the benefit of Scotland's learners and Scotland's economic growth.     To help inform the strategy they have developed two short surveys aimed at parents/guardians and teachers/practitioners. Both surveys can be accessed from the following link:


Each survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete and   your views would be appreciated.   The deadline for the completion is 27 April 2011.   For more information on the strategy development please visit http://www.technologiesforlearningstrategy.org.uk

An invitation to respond to GTC Scotland consultations 2010

In January 2008 the First Minister announced that the General Teaching Council for Scotland would be established as a ‘self- regulatory, profession led body, along the lines of the General Medical Council. Consultation followed focussing on some key functions of the Council and in January 2010 the response to that consultation was published.

To enact the resultant changes to the Council, regulation will be placed before Parliament in September 2010. The current 12th Council will continue to exist in the meantime with the 13th Council being the first to operate under the new legislative framework in late 2011 or early 2012.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland is now moving to a period of consultation with stakeholders.

Two consultations will shortly take place:

•       Consultation on the Election and Appointment of Council Members

29th September 2010 closing on 29th December 2010

The GTCs needs to decide on several key points relating to how they elect and appoint people to sit on the Council. Your views are important to us on these proposals relating to how registered teachers are elected and public interest members appointed to a future independent Council.

•       Consultation on Registration and Standards Rules

1st October 2010 closing on 3rd January 2011

This second consultation proposes new registration and standards rules and a revised statement of the principles governing exceptional admissions to the register. These rules will apply to those seeking registration (or re registration) with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, as well as those already registered with the Council who are looking to gain professional standards awards.

Responses will be published around March 2011.

To read more details concerning both consultations and to take part please go to   http://www.gtcs.org.uk

EHRC - Inquiry into Disability Related Harassment

Please note that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is conducting an inquiry into disability related harassment. The remit is explained fully here, but please note that the geographical area covered does include Scotland, so members are encouraged to submit responses as appropriate. Thanks


The deadline is 10th September.