SSTA Member Bulletin – October 2023

Hayward Review

The Independent Review Group led by Professor Louise Hayward published the final report ‘Our Future: Report of the Review of Qualifications and Assessment’ in June 2023. Recommendations in this report centre around a reduction of national qualifications and the introduction of a Scottish Diploma of Achievement (SDA) in the Senior Phase and with three mandatory elements: Personal Pathway, Programmes of Learning and Project Learning. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills has committed to taking views from the teaching profession on these proposals before publishing a Scottish Government response later this year. The Scottish Government is keen to hear views from teaching staff and the consultation closes at 5.00pm Tuesday 31 October.
Professor Hayward Recommendations - What do you think? (

Teacher Pension - SPPA Remedy Special Newsletter
Many members attended our recent in-person and virtual briefings and will be aware of the changes to the teachers’ pensions scheme. The major focus has been the ‘remedy’ for scheme members impacted by age discrimination created by the Government in 2015. The SPPA has released a special newsletter to provide further information on how 2015 Remedy is being implemented and what members can expect. 
SPPA September Employer Newsletter - Teachers (

A recording of the pensions presentation from the virtual briefing is available on the SSTA website - Teachers Pension Scheme Presentation - September 2023

Return to Work Meetings
Members returning to work after a period of sickness are sometimes required to attend a ‘return to work’ meeting. Members can be accompanied by the school representative at these meetings. The meeting should be a two-way conversation about how you are, any support you may need at work to ensure a successful return and an updating of any changes that have happened in school while you were absent. 

The school representative is there to give moral support - so member or colleague does not feel alone - and to act as a witness to what is being said. To seek clarification if what is being said is unclear. To help ensure that the meeting only deals with the agenda items. 
The school representative at this stage is not representing the member or colleague and therefore cannot speak on their behalf.

Teachers ‘Off Sick’
We are being increasingly alerted by members that are being required to provide work, complete assessments and write reports whilst ‘off sick’.

While a member is ‘off sick’ they have no obligation to provide work for classes and should not be contacted about work issues, including contact from any pupils. The only contact should be about ongoing health, any support that can be offered and likely return to work dates. In addition, any WhatsApp groups about work issues should be ignored until fit to return.

Statement of Fitness for Work - Fit Notes
The Statement of Fitness for Work, commonly known as the ‘fit note’ is used to record details of the functional effects of employee’s health condition. The fit note should allow the employer and employee to discuss the employee’s health condition and consider ways to help them stay in, or return to, work.

Fit notes may be issued by doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists. The law requires one of these healthcare professionals to undertake an assessment, either through a face to face, video call, telephone consultation or through considering a written report by another healthcare professional, to complete a fit note.

People can only be given a fit note if their healthcare professional considers their fitness for work is impaired. If someone is considered fit for work, they will not be given a fit note. The employee does not require a ‘fit for work’ fit note if their fitness for work is not impacted.

Employees can self-certify for the first 7 calendar days of their sickness absence, which includes weekends and bank holidays. If your employer requires medical evidence for the first 7 days of sickness absence, the healthcare professional may charge a fee, and this cost should be covered by the employer.

See the new Government guidance on fit notes 

SSTA Membership – Recruit a Colleague
All members are encouraged to recruit a colleague to join the SSTA. SSTA membership is unique in that it offers direct access to a senior official for advice and support. No other teacher union provides this service. The SSTA is the only trade union that offers this access to all members and remember the SSTA is the only teacher union that speaks only for Scottish Secondary Teachers.

  • NQTs – Free until January 2025 (qualified 2023)
  • New Teachers – Free and 30% (70% off) in 2024 (qualified 2022)
  • New members – 50% for 12 months
  • Part-Time – 50% for all part-timers (£8.38 per month)