General Secretary Report - October 2016


The National Executive is very much aware of the efforts of the Deputy First Minister to address Teacher Workload and promote Teacher Professional Judgement. However, 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 and closing the attainment gap.

91% in favour of tacking Action Short of Strike Action. 40.8% Turnout.

SSTA Council

  • John Swinney Deputy First Minister (DFM) attended SSTA Council - 1 October
  • Vision for Education – ‘Closing the Gap’
  • Essential elements - GIRFEC, CfE and Developing Young Workforce
  • Interaction with young people important and decluttering the system
  • CfE statement (29 August) what is expected of teachers
  • The Inspection of LAs on tackling bureaucracy report. COSLA to take steps to act promptly on Bureaucracy Report and follow-up to assess performance
  • Qualifications – too much assessment, of not sufficient value, anxiety of parents re: young people, assessment burden in S4. Nat 4 work needed to give validity
  • Minister asked for more time to ‘fix things’
  • Opportunity for teachers to slim-down bureaucracy
  • Valuable resources into schools and decisions taken in school

Assessment and National Qualifications working group

  • 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 and Higher level.
  • The reforms are intended to be introduced on a phased basis, with changes to National 5 implemented in 2017-2018 and changes to Higher in 2018-2019

Education Delivery Plan

The Delivery Plan sets outs the actions required to close the attainment gap over the next five years. It will involve further sustained pressure to reduce workload for teachers.

The plan confirms the Scottish Government will:

  • Focus on closing the attainment gap by extending the Scottish Attainment Challenge over the next five years.
  • Launch a governance and funding review to examine the system changes required to empower schools, devolving funding and more decision-making to schools and communities.
  • Simplify Curriculum for Excellence and streamline the current range of curriculum guidance for teachers, and introduce a simpler set of key resources for the profession by January 2017.
  • Invest in teachers and their skills to ensure we have highly qualified and empowered staff.
  • Move from a “culture of judgement” to a “system of judgement” to provide robust information on the education system to support improvement.

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 – learner-centred funding
  • Accountability

(Regional events are being arranged and key stakeholders to be engaged)

Education Scotland: Local Authority review on measures to reduce workload

  • Inspectors looked at: what support and guidance for schools and teachers the local authority had in place; what the local authority required schools and teachers to do; and any specific guidance the local authority had provided on how to reduce bureaucracy/workload.
  •    The issues to be covered will include, in the context of both the broad general education (early years, primary and S1 to S3) and the senior phase:
    • forward and curriculum planning;
    • assessment, including national qualifications;
    • tracking, monitoring and reporting;
    • self-evaluation and improvement planning; and
    • IT systems.

Education Scotland: Framework of teaching and benchmarks

  • CfE Statement and ‘draft’ Bench Marks published

“The suite of documents provides clear, practical advice for teachers and practitioners on planning learning, teaching and assessment.  This streamlined approach includes a definitive Statement on Curriculum for Excellence and benchmarks to support learning, teaching and assessment in literacy/English and numeracy/mathematics”.

SSTA Survey response, 68% SSTA members said the document would not have an impact in reducing teacher workload. A further 14% said the document would actually increase their workload. Little impact in Secondary Schools

International Council of Education Advisor's

  • Panel to meet twice a year with two year tenure
  • Business representative included but no trade union representative

Teacher Panel

  • Members nominated by Education Scotland and the Scottish College for Education Leadership and are drawn from 14 local authority areas
  • The class teacher panel will ‘test’ the programme for reducing workload in schools

Education Scotland: New Inspections

New inspection models to suit particular circumstances and contexts to be introduced in a phased approach from August 2016. The inspection models are:

  • Full inspection model
  • Short inspection model
  • Localised thematic model
  • Neighbourhood model

The HGIOS4 Quality Indicators to be evaluated on the six-point scale in full school inspections and have been re-focused to align with the new National Improvement Framework. They are:

1.3 Leadership of Change

2.3 Learning, Teaching and Assessment

3.2 Raising Attainment and Achievement

3.1 Ensuring Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusion

National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education

  • 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
  • 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 in October. Pilot carried out 2016-2017 most LAs volunteering to be part of pilot
  • Statutory Guidance – consultation until 11 November to be introduced in 2017

Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland - published

  • Improving access to digital technology for all learners
  • Empowering leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching
  • Ensuring curriculum and assessment relevance in a digital context
  • Extending the skills and confidence of teachers in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology

Scottish Parliament - Education and Skills Committee

SSTA has been asked to submit a paper and give evidence to the Committee as undertakes pre-budget scrutiny on the performance:

  • Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Scotland.

General Teaching Council

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

Scottish Trades Union Congress

  • Public Finance and Public Services Conference on Friday 14 October 2016. Agenda to include Fair Work, Scotland’s Budget, Tax and Public Services, Local Government Budgets, Privatisation and Arm’s Length Delivery.
  • STUC Organising Conference on Friday 11 November 2016.  Trade unions at the heart of the Fair Work in a Just Scotland, organising around occupational health and safety, and precarious employment
  • 2016 Women’s Congress – 28 & 29 October, Perth
  • 2017 and 2018 Annual Congress to be at the MacDonald Aviemore Resort
  • St Andrew’s Day March and Rally – Saturday 26 November, Glasgow
    - Theme “No Racism: Protecting Rights, Defending Communities”