Safety First and SQA

It has been a challenging return to school for many and there will undoubtedly be further challenges ahead. 

I would like to thank the very large number of members who had the opportunity to take part in our reopening of schools survey. The information received highlighted the issues that members and schools faced and allowed for further pressure to ensure staff and pupil safety.

The recent SSTA advice remains and are the steps we would like to see in place in all schools to ensure members’ safety, such as face coverings for older pupils, high standard cleaning regimes and strict physical distancing measures.

These measures are now becoming the way forward particularly with the increasing number of pupils at a number of different schools having tested positive for COVID-19 infection. These cases illustrate the serious risk of the virus spreading through school communities if strict measures are not put in place. In addition, we are expecting a reduction in class sizes in some instances to ensure physical distancing measures and assist the support for learning of all pupils during this Education Recovery Year.

Following the return to schools we are receiving reports from members where measures to ensure staff safety are not in place or are not being enforced. We will be carrying out a follow-up survey to assess the progress being made and the issues that need further action. You will receive a separate invitation to participate and your responses are vital in making progress in working conditions with the Scottish Government and Local Authorities.

SQA and Exams 2021

The Scottish Government decision to use teachers’ professional judgment this year was a major relief for most teachers, pupils and their parents. However, the arrangements for 2021 have still to be confirmed and the use of teacher professional judgement may become a major feature in the coming months. At this stage members are advised not to introduce any additional measures that will increase teacher workload and pressure on pupils.

On the 14 August the SQA launched two consultations on the modifications to National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher course assessments with a closing date of 24 August. The consultations are a technical consultation and survey on the proposed modifications for each course.

The SSTA Education Committee will be submitting a response but would welcome your views should you have concerns regarding the changes proposed in your particular subject(s). A short response stating your subject(s) and your concerns would be appreciated.

Keep safe

Seamus Searson
General Secretary