General Secretary Report - November 2016


‘Put pupils first – give teachers time to teach!’

The National Executive issued guidance to members on the first phase of the ‘Action Short of Strike Action’ that began on Monday 24 October. Members are being advised to work within the contracted 35 hour working week. Teacher Workload needs to be reduced in the current session. The SSTA has asked again for urgent action to reduce teacher workload and refocus teachers to teaching and learning. Further guidance will be issued in the coming weeks. Current guidance and presentation available at

SSTA says ‘Put Pupils First’ in this school year

The SSTA has concerns over the exam burden and the impact on pupil well-being if the current national qualification system is allowed to continue for a further year. The proposed changes for National 5 will not take place until the 2017-2018 session. The SSTA is acutely aware of the workload pressures associated with the National Qualifications but we are extremely concerned about the potential damage to our young people as the pressure intensifies at this time of year”.

Assessment and National Qualifications working group - 2 November

  • The CfE Management Board approved the changes to unit assessment within National 5 and Higher. The proposals include a strengthened final exam and externally assessed coursework that will replace mandatory unit assessments for qualifications at National 5 (2017-20180 and Higher level (2018-2019).
  • SQA roadmap National 5
    • January 2017 – principle changes (some subjects would have new elements)
    • Easter 2017 – detail of changes
    • August 2017 – specimen papers and coursework
    • Safety net – band E marks 30-39%
  • National 4 – further discussion needed but no appetite for an exam. Need to determine the rationale of the National 4 certificate (hub/gateway for all)

Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve excellence and equity in education: A Governance Review – consultation closes 6 January

  • Focus on supporting decision making in schools, empowering teachers, parents and communities, strengthening ‘the middle’ (clusters, education regions), national framework and professional capacity, fair funding and accountability
  • Regional events are being arranged and key stakeholders to be engaged

  • 3 priorities – GIRFEC, Curriculum for Excellence and Developing the Young Workforce.
  • Unions have concerns at the short timescale of consultation
  • Local Authorities have indicated their concerns about not just concentrating on schools for closing the attainment gap.
  • Union response - Collaboration costs time, money, cover and was happening before the cuts. Innovation was also happening in schools when less pressure and demand was on a teacher’s time.
  • Local Authorities have had their hands tied for years because of freezing of council tax so support staff, which could make the biggest difference to attainment by supporting the teaching and learning, has been lost to schools.
  • The working relationship between LAs and unions has been damaged by the cuts in staff with experience in teachers’ conditions of employment.

Education Scotland: Framework of teaching and benchmarks

  • CfE Statement and ‘draft’ Bench Marks published

  • To be followed by all subject benchmarks in the coming weeks. No time for meaningful consultation before publication.

Education Scotland: New Inspections

  • Inspectorate Development Plan Focus on the learner with full establishment, short, localised thematic and neighbourhood model
  • HIGIOS4 – QI (grade using 6 point scale) 1.3 Leadership of Change, 2.3 Learning Teaching and Achievement, 3.2 Raising Achievement and Attainment, 3.1 Ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion. Awareness that GIRFEC focus missing plus an additional QI negotiated with school not graded
  • Issues - short notice inspections appear to be favoured by schools but are not practical in small rural schools; focus upon local authorities rather than schools; Independent Schools do not have a 6 point scale

National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education – 9 November

  • National priorities: a) Literacy and numeracy; b) closing the gap; c) health and well-being; and d) positive destinations
  • Teacher professional judgement survey 2016 (formerly known as school data) -Literacy and numeracy judgements in P1, P2, P7 and S3 with National Report and Statistical Report to be published in December. Analysis to be labelled as ‘Experimental’ and will not include school based data.
  • Achievement of a level support plans - Education Scotland to arrange training sessions 1) moderation, 2) standards and 3) range of evidence required. Holistic assessment the main focus to assist LAs disseminate to schools
  • Standardised assessment update - Preferred bidder to be announced. Pilot carried out 2016-2017 most LAs volunteering to be part of pilot. Roll out date 17 August 2017. It is planned that teachers will be using the assessment when it is right for their pupils. Narrative to be produced for parental engagement
  • National Quality Assurance and Moderation programme. LAs have sent 10 teachers for the first part of moderation training. The aim is for these teachers to cascade this information to the colleges in their LAs. Education Scotland have employed 2 NIF advisors to help with this process. Another two advisors are to be appointed. These posts are being funded by Scottish Government.

Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS)

  • Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research. Survey in all secondary schools conducted in spring to be published early in February 2017 (study did not take into account existing LA reports of incidents)
  • Independent Report Bailey Gwynne. Government to consider amending the law on ‘stop and search’ and the purchase of weapons
  • Homophobic Bullying – LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall
    • 48% LGBT students said issues not discussed in classroom
    • 90% of teachers stated homophobic bullying took place to all pupils
    • 44% teachers are told not to discuss LGBT issues
    • 80% of teachers had no specific training
    • 60% LGBT students said bullying had an impact in their school work
    • 23% of LGBT pupil has considered taking own life and 53% harmed themselves


  • All teachers to undertake training
  • Supporting Transgender Young People in Education (due March 2017)
  • RespectMe (due December 2016)
  • Education Champions – 9 LAs (Stonewall Scotland) to be expanded
  • Initial Teacher Education – 750 students this year (6/8 institutions)
  • Refresh the Toolkit (Education Scotland)
  • Professional learning programme and support staff in secondary schools (including a focus on school leaders)
  • Inspection Framework to gauge the impact in schools

General Teaching Council

Consultation on fitness to teach process and closes on 29 November 2016

STUC General Council meeting First Minister - 9 November 2016

  • Expansion of child care provision. Current consultation raises position of nursery teachers and the introduction of a voucher may undermine quality local authority provision. Quality and workforce conditions of service important factors.
  • Living wage in the care sector - STUC a partner group in the implementation
  • Economy Scottish economy has remained resilient.
  • EU referendum shifted economic sentiment and uncertainty. Negative impact next year makes forecast more difficult
  • Impact on FE College sector on reduction in part-time and access into work (50% drop in female participation) to be considered further
  • Fall in sterling (has boosted exports) and low inflation rate but will lead to a rise in prices next year. Will have an Impact on pension schemes, pay and living standards
  • EU Referendum Vote Lack of information on Westminster strategy on ‘Brexit’.
  • Employment rights and social protections under threat need to work closely with STUC. Lack of awareness on implications need ‘user friendly’ material
  • Impact in Higher Education and research without free movement of people
  • Increase in racism and ‘racist’ incidents need to be challenged and all people welcomed in Scotland
  • Fair Work Convention Labour market strategy working with STUC
  • Fair work framework, the ‘effective voice’ through trade unions and the importance of collective bargaining
  • Launch of £250,000 Trade Union Modernisation Fund
  • Trade Union Act, non-compliance of elements of the Act including ballot threshold. Further discussion to take place
  • UK Sexual Offences (Pardons etc.) Bill 2016-17Scottish Government to legislate as quickly asap for automatic pardons and removal from personal records


Scottish Union Learning Conference 2016 - 8 November 2016

  • Titled ‘Organising Union Learning: Developing Workforce Skills’
  • Speaker Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training.
  • Trade union learning key part of partnership in developing the ‘Fair Work’ agenda
  • The Scottish Government to continue supporting this programme with almost £2.3 million this financial year. This will support around 3,000 learners
  • A further £250,000 for a trade union modernisation fund to retain and enhance the role of trade unions in the workplace

Scottish Trades Union Congress

  • Public Finance and Public Services Conference on Friday 25 November 2016

Agenda to include Fair Work, Scotland’s Budget, Tax and Public Services, Local Government Budgets, Privatisation and Arm’s Length Delivery.

  • St Andrew’s Day March and RallySaturday 26 November, Glasgow

- Theme “No Racism: Protecting Rights, Defending Communities”

Trade Union Advisory Committee/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD – 35 countries) October 2016

Education at a Glance 2016

  • Skills mismatch, no evidence of over-schooling, more educated insulated against unemployment
  • 17% of 20-24 year olds Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) and 25% of employed youth were in temporary or part-time employment
  • Teachers’ salaries – have been frozen until recently coupled with aging workforce means that increasingly young people are not being attracted into education professions because of comparatively poor salaries.
  • The number of secondary teachers over the age of 50 is increasing in more than two-thirds of countries (34% in lower secondary and 38% in upper secondary)
  • Within teaching gender imbalance the percentage of female teacher shrinks – but teacher salaries tend to increase. Women are less likely to become headteachers even they are recruited from the ranks of teachers.
  • Class sizes decreasing in three-quarter of countries – increasing in the UK

PISA (Programme for Internal Student Assessment)

  • Information on 15 year olds, and assess education system.
  • 2015 PISA - to be published on 6 December 2016.
  • Main focus on Science (explain phenomena scientifically; evaluate and design scientific enquiry; interpret data and evidence scientifically)
  • Less of a focus on Maths and Reading
  • 2018 PISA. Main focus Reading (growth in online reading ; emphasis on reading skills; and basic reading comprehension) and less focus on Maths and Science

Inequality and Gender Gaps

  • OECD Gender Initiative (2013) - Closing gender gap in educational attainment and labour force participation.
  • Not to act would lead to drop in labour force participation. Report due in 2017
  • Young women have higher attainment than young men in tertiary education.
  • Women do more unpaid work (around the home) leading to less opportunity for paid employment