Members Update - 1 December 2020

Examinations 2021

The SSTA has called for an early announcement as to the arrangements for the Higher and Advanced Higher examinations next summer. The assumption that the examinations should continue as normal ignores the damage that has been inflicted upon all pupils as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Teachers and pupils are under severe pressure, trying to ensure all candidates are prepared fully for the examinations next summer, whilst increasing numbers have contracted the virus or are required to isolate because of it. The continuation of the exam diet has the potential to increase the divide between the most disadvantaged and those who are not. Delaying the decision adds more stress and unnecessary pressure on those involved. A decision to focus on teacher assessment that identifies ‘quality rather than quantity’ would reduce the level of anxiety on an already distressed education system. 

Christmas Break

The decision to relax measures so that families can meet for Christmas has a number of risks that need to be managed. There have been discussions taking place around the arrangements for schools before and after Christmas. The SSTA believes a common end of term date for schools and a later return to physical schooling would be a sensible measure to protect people and control the virus. In addition, to continue education by moving to ‘remote learning’ at an earlier stage to reduce the risk both before and after Christmas would seem to be a sensible additional measure. This would not mean a return to the ‘lockdown’ measures introduced in March but a planned continuation of learning at the times when schools would be expected to be open. It has been a hard year for all so far so please remember it is essential for all staff and pupils to have a break over Christmas.

Remote Learning

Remote learning is the term being used to describe when learners and teachers are not physically present together in the traditional classroom environment. Teachers can arrange learning which is appropriate to the needs and circumstances of their learners.

Main elements of remote learning can include:

  • providing pupils with physical resources where needed such as learning materials, textbooks and digital devices
  • providing access to recorded learning sessions and tasks (such as Education Scotland and other resource providers)
  • setting learners tasks for completion and submission to / discussion with practitioners
  • engaging with pupils through email or an agreed platform
  • using the opportunity to check in, discuss and engage with pupils following a learning task, but not to deliver lessons or content 

Please note: Live teaching is a major safety and security issue and should not be taking place.

Heating and Ventilation
The regulations for heating in schools have not been changed as a consequence of the pandemic but guidance on ventilation has been added. If classrooms and other school areas do not meet the requirements then alternative arrangements need to be made and, in some instances, may lead to classes or schools being sent home. Please see the details within SSTA Heating and Ventilation Poster.

The SSTA recently arranged a number of members’ briefings that included a presentation on "Teachers’ Pensions Scheme(s) – Changes to the transitional arrangement to the 2015 schemes" by Stuart McCullough an Independent Financial Advisor. Stuart has kindly agreed for his presentation to be circulated to members, whether they were able to attend or not. Please follow the link to the Presentation 

SSTA Face Masks
You should have received an SSTA Face Mask recently from your SSTA School Representative. I would like to thank our school representatives who have carried out this task but, more importantly, for the vital work they have carried out on behalf of members during this very difficult time.

If you have not received your SSTA Face Mask please contact the SSTA Head Office