General Secretary Report - March 2017

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

Members are being advised to work within the contracted 35 hour working week and focus on teaching and learning. Additional guidance is to be issued on School Improvement Plans, Working Time Agreements, Pastoral Support and Posts of Responsibility.

Current guidance and presentations are available at

Teachers Pay Claim 2017

The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) has submitted a pay claim for 2017 and discussions are to continue with the Government and Employers.

The SNCT claim includes

  • an uplift to meet the decline in ‘real’ value in teacher salaries since 2003 and bring Scottish Teachers into line with average teachers' salaries across the OECD
  • the importance of reward at the top point of the main grade scale in the retention and recruitment of teachers particularly following the removal of the Chartered Teachers scale and the decline in career opportunities
  • the restoration of pay of short-term supply teachers
  • a reduction of class contact time and a reduction in class sizes to control teacher workload.

Assessment and National Qualifications working group

National 5 – published 31 January

January 2017 – Implications of removal of unit assessments from Nat 5 course

  • extension of the existing question paper
  • extension/modification of the existing item of coursework
  • a new question paper
  • a new item of coursework

April 2017 – course materials

August 2017 – specimen papers and coursework

  • Extending grade D to 40% being considered
  • Nat 5 ‘free-standing’ units ONLY
  • Confusion in schools and need for a clear statement to schools

SSTA Survey on National 5 changes

  • Within the first 48 hours 837 members had responded
  • Highlighted a concern that the new arrangements may increase teacher workload
  • Need to assess the impact upon student’s workload, and time for teachers to implement
  • SSTA delayed publishing the returns to allow time for discussions between the SQA and Government officials
  • The survey was broken down by subject and changes to the elements within the course. The results to be published shortly

Education Scotland

 Bench Marks

  • being prepared by Education Scotland for publication
  • Benchmarks launched by the end of March
  • The Benchmarks will have opening text on their effective use in promoting more holistic assessment (and will set out some do’s and don’ts)
  • exemplification to support the dissemination and introduction of the Benchmarks
  • The exemplification will highlight how some teachers have streamlined and simplified planning and assessment though using Es and Os and Benchmarks, and how this has impacted on improving learning and helping to reduce workload
  • Possibility of providing guidance and support to local authorities and schools through ‘Understanding Standards’ approach to help local authorities and their schools look at how best to introduce curriculum area Benchmarks.


Teacher Workload

  • Local authority ‘good practice’ is to be published on the Education Scotland website following discussions with trade unions

Four identified areas below

  • Continuous profiling and reporting – primary schools
  • Simplification of paperwork
  • Team Around the Child Model
  • Tracking, monitoring and reporting in the primary sector


National Standardised Assessments (NSA)

  • Statutory in school year 2017 - 2018 in P1, P4, P7 and S3
  • Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) the contractor
  • Assessments are to be available for all students
  • All platforms will work together seamless with SEEMIS and Glow
  • Scholar for training (administration and using the data) – materials for teachers by August 2017, online, webinars, face to face, etc
  • TWIG develop a video to fit in with teacher judgment and a help desk
  • Wide engagement with stakeholders, teachers, parents and local authorities

Implementation of NSA 2016-2017

  • 5 LAs volunteered – Glasgow, Fife, Stirling, Western Isles and South Lanarkshire (100 schools in total)
  • A trial not a pilot, not a final version of the assessment
  • 35 - 40 mins but no more than 50 mins to take place after February break (P1, P3, P7 and S3)
  • Discussions on S3 Assessments and impact upon the existing tracking and monitoring practices and should be replacing not an addition

International Council of Education Advisers

  • 27 -28 February - Advice to FM and DFM
  • Focus – ‘closing the gap’ and collaborative working
  • Meeting with children’s cabinet, child poverty advisor
  • No engagement with Trade Unions

Innovative Routes to Teaching

  • STEM 1 - Combined PGDE and Induction Year - Probation and master degree in 2 years. Registration achieved in 9 months.
  • STEM 2 – Combined PGDE and probation in 1 year. Based in schools and paid standard salary during the year.
  • Concurrent Degrees for Secondary Education – physics and chemistry. To be extended to Technology.
  • Primary Specialism/Transitions 1 - subject specialism and Maths P6 to S3
  • Primary Specialism/Transitions 2 – additional subject specialism literacy, numeracy, ASN and STEM
  • Local Authority Employees into teaching - STEM subjects
  • Newly Qualified Teachers from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland - undertake Masters degree whilst working in partner local authority
  • Returners to Teaching – out of the classroom who never taught in Scotland
  • Two Year Masters – Transformative Learning and Teaching MSc that allows ability to teach in the primary/secondary sectors

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

  • Governance Review - 1100 responses, 700 individuals at events, timing of White Paper to be determined
  • 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
  • SSTA response

7th International Summit on the Teaching Profession 29-31 March 2017 in Edinburgh

  • An Education International (EI) /OECD event hosted by the Scottish and UK Governments.
  • Invitations made to the top 25 countries in the OECD with a joint teacher union and government presentations.
  • Pre-summit activities - School visits being arranged (29th)
  • Opening public session (30th am)
  • a) What do teachers need in terms of professional learning and development, now and in the future, to support their work?
  • What can governments, and unions do to ensure we have the right national structures and policy environment to support this?
  • Striving for Sustainable Excellence & Equity in Learning

Increase in General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) Fees

SSTA meet with the GTCS following the announcement of an increase in fees from £50 to £65 in January and asked that

  • the GTCS should reconsider its decision to increase the fee and show solidarity with its members and work within the current fee of £50
  • the GTCS should focus on its essential role of registration and accrediting teacher programmes.
  • should the GTCS sees itself as an agency that carries out functions that should be undertaken by the Government and/or the Employers then those bodies should be expected to meet the additional costs and not the GTCS members.

Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) – General Council

Annual Congress - Aviemore 24 -26 April 2017

  • Guest speakers to include: First Minister, Labour Party, ICTU, TUC, Wales TUC and an International speaker due to the implications for Brexit.

Union Modernisation Fund

  • Funding up to March 2017 approved. Awaiting new funding from April

Organising for Fair Work & Trade Union Fair Work and Modernisation Fund

  • 24 March 2017 at the STUC Centre Glasgow, 12.00 noon

Trade Union Act Briefing Session (Thompsons)

  • Thursday 23 March 2017, Glasgow 30pm

Stand up to Racism – Scotland

·        Stand up to Racism march/rally on 18 March 2017.

·        Meet 11am, Holland St, Glasgow


SSTA Forthcoming Events

Health and Safety and Senior Management Training – Friday 12 May, Stirling

SSTA 2017 Congress Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May, Crieff

District Secretaries Training early September 2017 to be confirmed

School Representative Training – to be delivered locally details to be circulated