Members Bulletin – 4 June 2020

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) advice
HPS advice can be found at  https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/covid-19/
The most recent ‘Core COVID19 Information and Guidance for General (Non-Healthcare) Settings (version 4)’ can be downloaded here
 
Scottish Government Guidance
The Scottish Government guidance is very clear with the main message to ‘Stay at Home’ and ‘Work from Home’ where you can. If you, or a member of your household, have an underlying health condition, or are a part of a vulnerable group, you must work from home.
 
This will be a major factor in any arrangements for teachers returning to school towards the end of June to prepare and plan for the new way of working and welcoming pupils back. 
 
Reopening of Schools
The SSTA view remains that schools can only reopen and operate safely if there are significant operational changes in place to ensure effective social distancing, strong hygiene routines linked to thorough cleansing practices, appropriate PPE available where required, and ongoing risk assessments in place to monitor operations. SSTA District Secretaries are working with Local Authorities in preparing detailed Risk Assessments for the reopening of school buildings.
 
Details of the Scottish Government guidance can be found below

SNCT Guidance
Guidance from the SNCT is being prepared regarding contractual matters relating to the decision to reopen schools on 11 August. This guidance will include clarification of early return and leave dates, guidance for pre-existing holidays or commitments, and summer retirals.

Returning to school in June
In preparation for schools reopening in August some schools are asking staff to return to their place of work. The SSTA urges caution in members returning to school prior to all normal premises management preparations being complete, detailed risk assessments being completed, and health and safety measures put in place. Schools should be collating lists of staff who are able to attend the school and making arrangements accordingly.

The SSTA expects a collegiate approach to be taken by schools when planning approaches to blended learning.

SSTA Advice

  1. Members must continue to work from home
  2. All meetings should continue to be held remotely
  3. Members should only attend their workplaces:
  • To assist with the completion of Risk Assessments i.e. as part of a physical premises inspection
  • To assist in the Risk Assessment of their own workspaces including staff department areas
  • To collect teaching materials in preparation for the reopening of schools to pupils in August
  1. Should schools invite specified pupils to school as part of a transition arrangement (following adequate risk assessment and planning) only those staff that have direct child supervision responsibilities for those pupils should attend. No other members of staff should be required to attend.
  2. Members must not attend work if they have not been assigned a specific child caring responsibility and given advice on procedures to be followed.
  3. Please remember. If you, or a member of your household, have an underlying health condition, or are a part of a vulnerable group, you must work from home

Additional Training and Wellbeing Support Survey
A new workforce support group created in response to COVID19 is surveying Scotland’s education workforce, including early learning and childcare, to find out what additional training and wellbeing support is needed.  The group is one of a number of workstreams formed by the Scottish Government and is focused on looking beyond the immediate impact to consider how national and local government can best work with key partners to support schools and early learning and childcare services in moving forward.

The SSTA is represented in the group and is keen that members take part in this important survey to share their views on what additional training and wellbeing support is required.  Details of support currently available is here:

Please use this survey link to share your feedback with the group: https://bit.ly/CERGWS6Feedback

SQA arrangements for 2020-2021
SSTA has been pressing the Government and SQA to make alternative arrangements for the examination diet for 2020-2021. It would be reasonable for the SQA to make adjustments to take into account the current COVID19 crisis. An early decision and a reduction of what is expected is essential to allow teachers to prepare in advance of the reopening schools in August. Should the collection of evidence be a major factor then the SQA must ensure the focus should be quality rather than quantity.

Working Time Agreements
Working Time Agreements exist as a tool to help control workload.  They are usually negotiated at this time of year by school negotiating committees, with 190 hours of collegiate time being allocated to a range of essential activities.  This year uncertainty caused by the closure of school buildings has presented a significant challenge to negotiations (see SNCT circular).

Following strategic advice from the COVID19 Education Recovery Group, LNCTs should be offering schools advice on how collegiate time should be allocated, although the final Working Time Agreement is still a matter for school negotiating committees to conclude.  As indicated by the SNCT, any agreement reached before the summer break may require to be renegotiated after school buildings reopen.

SSTA advice up until now has been that time could be allocated like this:

40           Additional Preparation/Correction
30           Parents Meetings
40           Formal Assessments
40           Pupil Reports
25           Staff/Departmental Meetings
3             Professional Review and Development
5             Additional Supervised Pupil Activity
*             Curriculum Development
*             Continuing Professional Development

(* minimal time remaining)

However, it is likely that a blended learning model will increase the preparation/correction and curriculum development workload.  The format of parents meetings is likely to have to be rethought, and reporting may take on greater significance.  Teachers will need time to develop online pedagogical skills, and formal assessment may need more time depending on how things develop with the SQA 2021 exam diet. 

School Working Time Agreements will need to be thought through carefully to prevent workload spiralling out of control.

The SSTA recommends that:

  • School improvement plans are adjusted to allow teachers to focus on core learning and teaching activities. 
  • Working Time Agreements are reviewed early in August
  • Workload is regularly reviewed by the school negotiating committee throughout the year
  • Clear plans for parent/carer reporting are agreed and time allocated
  • A schedule of staff meetings is agreed within allocated time
  • Additional development time and CPD required for online teaching is estimated and allocated
  • Time is allocated for SQA and other formal assessment requirements

If your school is currently without an SSTA representative, please consider offering to take on the role so that SSTA members are represented in WTA negotiations.  Contact  for more information.

Finally

  1. Please follow the Government guidelines
  2. Follow the SSTA on Twitter
  3. Contact  if you require further advice
  4. #StayHomeStaySafe
Published on 04 June 2020 - Information for Members