The 75th Annual Congress was held on 17th and 18th May 2019 at Crieff Hydro Hotel. You can find the text of the motions passed at Congress below.
Congress believes that Restorative Practice is increasing teacher workload and is often ineffective in improving pupil behaviour.
Congress calls upon the Scottish Government to review the implementation of Restorative Practice at Local Authority level and in schools.
Congress notes that the 2018 SSTA survey showed that 70% of members experienced incidents of serious verbal abuse, 60% had experienced incidents of threatening or menacing behaviour and 19% experienced incidents of physical assault. Teachers then face difficulties in reporting incidents and teachers are often seen to be ‘the problem’ if incidents are pursued. Only 33% of teachers felt supported or received feedback after the incident. The perception of ‘no action being taken’ undermines teachers and fails to address the worsening conditions in schools. The high number of teachers who feel that the schools try to ‘sweep it under the carpet’ and not address the issue is alarming.
Congress insists that all violent incidents in schools must be reported and any overly bureaucratic and duplicate processes must be removed. It is essential for teachers to work in a safe environment and to expect action to be taken by Local Authorities to protect staff in order to reduce the increasing level of violent incidents.
The SSTA calls on Local Authorities to ensure that all schools have appropriate facilities (e.g. staff rooms, staff bases, toilets etc.) to support the well-being of teachers.
Congress calls on COSLA to establish a minimum of 50 minutes lunch break as a measure to improve the working environment and health and well-being of teachers and pupils.
Congress notes with concern that, in many situations, the voice of teachers is not represented in important decisions affecting education and the teaching profession. Both the quality of decision-making and the securing of the commitment to necessary reforms would be greatly enhanced by including the perspectives of practitioners and their representatives who have an informed, professional input to make in advising on policy decisions. The exclusion of the teacher’s voice from many advisory and decision-making bodies is short-sighted, is contrary to best practice and demeaning of the profession of teaching.
Congress calls on the Scottish Government to involve education trade unions in all decisions affecting the profession and the education system and take into account their advice and opinions.
Congress is concerned about the potential loss of around 1,000 teachers in Scotland, as a result of leaving the EU. The Association calls on the Scottish Government to take this into account when establishing the number of teachers to be trained in future years.
Congress welcomes the move by the Scottish Government to introduce bursaries of £20,000 to encourage new entrants into the profession. However, the Association calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that the recipients are tied to a long term commitment to teach in Scottish schools.
Congress believes that cuts to Technician Services are having a negative impact on high quality learning and teaching. The SSTA calls on the Scottish Government and COSLA to call an immediate halt to reductions in Technician Services and to undertake a review with the aim of providing a high level of service in all Local Authorities and schools.
The SSTA welcomes the Scottish Government’s “Review of Personal and Social Education.”
However, the recommended timescale for implementation by March 2021 is ambitious. The SSTA calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that fully-funded, relevant, timeous and high quality in-service training is available to all teachers who will be involved in the delivery of the recommendations in the Review.
Congress believes that pressure on teachers to ensure that pupil achievement in National Courses is increasing, with a reasonable expectation that pupils must leave school with a qualification. Many schools have persisted in using freestanding units to provide a fall-back position, thus defeating attempts to reduce workload.
The SSTA calls on the Scottish Government to instruct the SQA to set fixed dates in the academic year for all freestanding unit entries and passes, thus preventing retrospective entries and duplication of workload.
Motion K – remitted to Council
Congress believes that all pupils, irrespective of their dates of birth or any decision by parents to delay the start of their education, should be entitled to leave school after 11 years of compulsory education, based on a single school leaving date at the end of the summer exam diet. Congress calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to put this into effect.
Congress calls upon the Scottish Government to carry out an urgent review of the increased workload for newly qualified teachers who enter the profession and to ensure a balance between pedagogical theory and curriculum knowledge.
Congress notes that there is a wide disparity in the provision and cost of music tuition in Scottish schools. We also acknowledge that the Depute First Minister has recognised the importance of music tuition.
The SSTA calls on the Scottish Government to instruct all Local Authorities to scrap music tuition service charges and to ensure that ratios of instructors to pupil numbers mirror the best practice across the country.
Congress calls upon the Deputy First Minister to insist that all school leaders implement his own directive that “the professional judgement of the classroom teacher must be listened to” when it comes to deciding at what level a student should be presented within the exam system.
The SSTA calls on the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to resource sufficiently the principle of inclusion to allow teachers to get it right for every child.
Additional Support Needs and Support For Learning teachers work with some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Congress calls on the Scottish Government to fund and provide training opportunities to fully support the range of additional support needs found in classrooms across the country.
Children and young people identified as having a hearing or visual impairment in Scotland, are legally entitled to support from a qualified teacher of hearing or visual impairment. This mandatory qualification takes over 2 years to complete but, despite that, is not recognised by the GTCS.
This lack of recognition devalues the qualification and undermines the dedication and professionalism of those sacrificing personal time to achieve it.
Congress calls on the GTCS to review their current policy to acknowledge this PGDip. Qualification and to recognise teachers of hearing and visual impairment as additional, distinct and valued categories of registration.
Congress believes that GIRFEC is overly bureaucratic and unevenly implemented across Scotland’s Local Authorities. This presents unnecessary barriers to teachers which are not in the best interests of young people.
Congress calls on the Scottish Government to standardise procedures related to recording and planning to best meet the needs of children and young people.
The SSTA calls on Local Authorities to ensure that all workplace bullying is taken seriously and dealt with appropriately in order to maintain a culture of collegiality in schools.
Congress welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to embed LGBTI issues within the curriculum in order to improve the educational experience of pupils. We therefore call upon the Government to provide quality resources and training to support this.
Following the increase in the pension age and in recognition of teachers having a longer career, Congress calls on all Local Authorities / Regional Improvement Collaboratives to ensure that there is equality of opportunity for good quality CPD for teachers at every stage of their career.
The SSTA calls for the Scottish Government to promote the use of the recently published HSE Education Stress Talking Toolkit (Preventing Work-Related Stress in Schools), so that teachers like other employees can ‘Go Home Healthy’.
Congress calls on the Scottish Government to extend its ambition for improving Mental Health in schools to include staff as well as pupils and to commit to providing Mental Health First Aiders for all school staff.