Social Distancing: Further Information & Advice

The situation is constantly changing and I would like to take the opportunity to give further information and advice.
More detailed SSTA advice to members can be found on the SSTA website.
Social Distancing: The latest Scottish Government advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19): social distancing in education and childcare settings can be found at

SSTA Advice

  • Schools must ensure a ‘risk assessment’ has taken place that includes the Scottish Governments’ advice on social distancing
  • Schools must ensure the provision of necessary cleaning materials and measures to prevent close contact before asking staff to attend
  • Schools need to prepare a schedule for the supervision of pupils and a rota for available staff
  • Members must not attend work if you have not been assigned a specific child caring responsibility and given advice on procedures to be followed

Community Hubs
Please find link to latest SNCT circular 20/75 School Closures. I would like to highlight the following:

Spring Break Community Hubs will be open over Spring Break for vulnerable children and for children of key workers who cannot make their own childcare arrangements. The Community Hubs should be staffed on a volunteer basis and any holiday time worked will be paid back (*either as pay or a time off in lieu to be taken during the normal summer term of session 2019-20.) Specific arrangements will be determined locally across each of the 32 Councils. Teachers on supply lists should also be given the opportunity to provide cover for Spring Break.

SSTA Advice

  • All teachers and pupils are on leave during the spring break
  • The community hubs will be staffed by volunteers who should have leave reallocated when the school session is due to return
  • Community Hubs need to prepare a schedule for the supervision of pupils and a rota for available staff.
  • SSTA members who are well and able are encouraged to volunteer as part of a rota in the community hubs
  • Members who volunteer to support the community hubs must not attend if have not been assigned a specific child caring responsibility.

Supply Teachers
The SSTA is pressing the SNCT to ensure that all supply teachers are protected during the national emergency. Negotiations are taking place to ensure that supply teachers suffer “no detriment” and we are hoping for a an agreement to be reached in the coming days

Pastoral and Guidance Teachers
There has been a high number of contacts from members who work in Pastoral Care and Guidance highlighting increased workload demands as a consequence of school closures and online learning.

       SSTA Advice

  • Moving to online education should not have changed previously agreed remits
  • Where it is possible, try to ensure that work previously done by others remains on their remit
  • Schools should have a strategic plan to manage pupil and parental contact for different issues to clarify who to approach for different queries
  • The strategic plan should be communicated to all staff
  • Normal procedures for pupils failing to engage with departmental work should still apply with Faculty Heads in the first instance
  • Unresolved concerns would apply to the appropriate members of Senior Leadership Team, Learning Support or Pastoral Care teams depending on the nature of these concerns.

Online Communication
The purpose of this advice is not to curtail freedom but to reduce teachers’ exposure to professional vulnerability.

Online working and remote learning is not normal for the majority of teachers and few staff have received much formal training in how to do much more than the basics. There is a lot of evidence that teachers, attempting to bridge the gaps left by local authority IT provision, are turning to using personal communications such as email, WhatsApp, texting, Zoom, Facebook messenger, FaceTime etc.  Existing IT provision in Glow (e.g. Google Meet and Teams)  has not been established with a view to widespread teaching, and teachers using Teams within Glow are reporting difficulties with access.  It may be a result of individual access.

SSTA advice is drawn from GTCS advice, which observes that:  ‘A teacher can be vulnerable to unintended misuses for electronic communication.  E-mail, texting and social media encourage casual dialogue and very often, very innocent actions can easily be misconstrued or manipulated’  (See: ). 

Before asking teachers to engage in live video or audio calls to learners, a risk assessment should be carried out leading to robust guidelines for how such calls should be handled and tracked.  There will need to be protection for users at each end, with measures put in place to protect teachers from allegations of impropriety.  Issues to consider may include, but are not limited to: system security, retention of evidence, IT equipment location, auto-answer settings, background events/conversations, IT failure/resolution, child protection reporting procedures, observance of GDPR, etc. If members feel that sufficient protection is in place they may feel confident in accepting the risk.

SSTA Advice

  • Do not engage in live face to face or audio discussions with learners using online video or webchat
  • Only use official channels of communication e.g. GLOW and work e-mail addresses and be aware of and comply with employers policies and guidance
  • Do not exchange private phone numbers, personal e-mail addresses or photos of a personal nature with pupils
  • If recording video resources, take care to obscure anything in the background which may compromise your privacy or professionalism
  • Be aware that anything shared online is not private

The SSTA is engaged with Scottish Government and Education Scotland to issue advice to all teachers on safe online teaching. Further advice to be circulated at a later date.

Working from Home
Please find link to SSTA detailed advice on Working from Home.

SQA National Qualifications
Many schools and employers are asking staff to enter estimates for pupil attainment in SQA examinations.  The advice of the SSTA is that teacher should not enter estimates in any recording system,  such as SEEMIS,  until clear guidelines from the SQA have been issued.  It is hoped that such guidelines should give clear indication as to how these estimate grades may be reached so that all pupils are assessed in a similar manner throughout Scotland. However, discussions relating to pupil progress within departments will, of course, continue to take place, and it is likely that schools will be giving some consideration to what data they already have and how secure it is.

SSTA Advice

  • The SQA plans to provide further details on the estimation of grades required from teachers and lecturers to inform certification
  • Although pupils may be aware of target and estimate grades, teachers must not give pupils any assurances of anticipated final grades
  • It will be the duty of the SQA to inform learners of their formal grades and to ensure that certification processes are robust and defensible
  • Teachers should not be gathering any further coursework or any other materials
  • Members are not required to submit predicted grades at this time