English teachers’ union calls for national plan like that of SNP Government: BBC Scotland AWOL


By stewartb:

The Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) has just published the results of a survey of members who are headteachers or depute headteachers in Scotland’s schools.

‘Seven weeks into this school shutdown the EIS surveyed its members to find out about the challenges of delivering education remotely as well as in school hubs. Within this survey, questions were designed, also, to understand teacher wellbeing, and what is required as we move into the next academic session in August 2020 on the basis of a “blended learning” approach.’

The School Sector Survey was opened on 12 May and closed on 19 May. In total 26,128 responses were obtained, a response rate of c.60%. The survey was in five sections: About You, Hub Support, Remote Learning, Health and Wellbeing and The Next Academic Session.


Acknowledgement: the graphics below are taken from the EIS School Sector Survey report.

Unsurprisingly, given the unfamiliar situation Scotland’s schools have had to face in lockdown – and given workload and stress issues due to inevitable lack of preparedness – there are some adversely critical responses from survey participants on certain issues. (Candidly, however when one opts in questionnaire design to ask for responses to negatively framed questions, you will inevitably elicit – indeed can only receive, by design – responses which count towards negative messaging!)

Notwithstanding criticisms, there are also some remarkable ‘positives’ about how Scotland’s educational system, its individual schools and their staff, have not just coped but risen to the challenges with commitment and innovation. And there is also evidence here that many parents have been reasonably realistic over what could be delivered remotely so far. All this, arguably, in an environment supported by Local Authorities and influenced by the co-operative, consultative approach towards the sector adopted from the outset by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP.

In an unashamedly selective account, here are some notable responses.  The degree of positivity – not unanimous across all issues – seems in stark contrast to the tone of media reports about the present state of affairs within the English schools system as a consequence of the Tory government’s approach to date.

EIS and Government

On 21 May, the General Secretary of the EIS, Larry Flanagan said this about the nature of the working relationship between the teaching union, the Scottish Government and Local Authorities:

“Our members will welcome the clarity provided by the First Minister’s announcement today, and the clear statement that schools will not re-open until after the summer and only if health conditions allow.”

“This will provide valuable time to allow schools to prepare for what will be a very different learning environment, with physical distancing requiring smaller class sizes and schools delivering a blended approach of part time in-school learning and part time remote learning for most pupils.”

Mr Flanagan added, “The EIS has worked constructively with the Scottish Government and with local authorities throughout this crisis and will continue to do so in the best interests of learners and teachers.”

“There is a strong shared commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of everyone in the school community. Delivering a new blended learning approach is potentially the biggest curriculum challenge of this century, however, and it will require significant commitment from all parties to make it work.”  No less should be expected!

By contrast

Perhaps the EIS could be more gracious in valuing what it and its members have in Scotland? This is from a press release issued on 9 June by the National Education Union in England:

“The consequences of Covid-19 are going to be felt in our education system for months to come.  What is needed, now, is a national plan for education, along the lines being developed by the Scottish government. This should cover all possible scenarios and focus on blended learning, at home and at school; greatly increased support for disadvantaged children, including free internet access so that they can access online teaching and learning, and the requisitioning of local public spaces, such as community centres and libraries, so that pressure on school space is lessened and more children are able to return to school in safe environments.”


One thought on “English teachers’ union calls for national plan like that of SNP Government: BBC Scotland AWOL

  1. Good to read this thanks.

    Have had several conversations about education recently, in relation to parents having to ‘home school’ and take the place of the ‘teacher’ while working from home.

    I was a home educator, (not by choice, that’s a long story of neglect in not providing support to a child with autism, by the Labour run LA and Labour run Holyrood a few years ago, all about £’s but they did send £1.5BILLION BACK to Westminster at the same time!) and yes it is a whole new way of thinking, not handing your child over to the state to be spoon fed what someone else decides they should know, or not.

    School is great for some kids, not so great for others. The present situation lends itself to revisiting how Scotland educates their young people. What form should it take? Who is it for, what do children need to know? Children are natural learners. With the internet, interactive learning is a brilliant resource, and in can be geared to the ‘age, aptitude and ability’ of the child, a requirement of what the schools should be providing.

    School is not compulsory, ( nor is homework, shhh!) education is however, up to age 16. That can take many forms, and with good guidance and a bit of imagination, children can thrive and excel at what interests them, the tools are there, like never before, and though it is by no means easy for parents, for some no doubt impossible due to circumstances, home education is a brilliant way to allow for self led, as well as guided learning ( a child would be lucky to have 5mins of one-to-one time with their school teacher in a week).

    A bit of imagination, spending an hour a day if that, giving children the freedom of finding out for themselves their strengths, more autonomous learning with good guidance is to be welcomed.

    We spent lots of quality time learning about the periodic table, interactive subjects online, my son taught himself to speak Japanese, he is fluent and does some translation now, drama, writing classes, all part of the social engagement and interactions, which most kids crave, has had a positive outcome, when school was such a nightmare for my son. It was also an education for me, school in England was about crowd control, factory fodder, very little else quite frankly. ‘Which factory do you want to work at?’

    Children learn by play, they are quite often visual learners, they all learn differently though. One size fits all is not good enough. The state can only do so much, parents are responsible for their childs eduaction, even more so right now, they need all the support they can get to enable them to have confidence in facilitating their kids to learn and interact outside of the school classroom. Education does not stop at the school gates, in some cases it starts there.

    Here is Ken Robinson, educationalist, we spent many hours learning from TEDtalks, a brilliant resource.


    I also discovered this recently, for any parents out there struggling to find exciting sites to share with their children re interactive learning, it’s brilliant, wish I had more spare time for it myself.


    Lastly, anyone home educating, by choice or not this is an excellent site, specific to Scotland. http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/

    Sorry long comment, I could say much more on this subject! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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