The March meeting of EIS Council was held on International Women’s Day, and Council members took the opportunity to view a newly completed video – EIS women making herstory – and to send a solidarity message to women around the world, specifically all those impacted by the current conflict in Gaza.

Vice-President Allan Crosbie, delivering the report on the work of the Executive Committee, updated Council on the latest developments in the Stand Up for Quality Education Campaign.

Mr Crosbie said that greatest time was spent discussing the interim report based on findings from a recent FOI request to Local Authorities on the reporting and handling of incidences of Violence and Aggression in schools. It would be important for Local Associations to challenge at LNCT level any glaring errors, omissions or evasions that they find within the data provided by their employers, he said.

On the current national campaign focus on ASN issues, Mr Crosbie said, “Our work on the ASN campaign priority is continuing apace, including a recent social media campaign to highlight key issues publicly. Whether it is locally or nationally or both, our campaign is growing and gaining momentum across the country.”

Moving onto the current FE dispute, Mr Crosbie said, “There is an ongoing disgraceful attack on our FELA colleagues, including the threat of 100% deeming of wages for action short of strike – which is straight from the Tories’ anti-trade union playbook. The Scottish Government have sat on the sidelines being complicit while this has been going on.”

Mr Crosbie also said that there had been considerable debate at Executive over the pros and cons of potentially inviting the Cabinet Secretary to speak at the AGM. Following a majority decision at Executive, the Cabinet Secretary will be invited to speak at the AGM, on the proviso that she agrees to the question and answer format that will be proposed by the EIS.

Education Committee

Convener Susan Quinn updated Council on the progress of the Education Bill Consultation and said the EIS concerns and disappointment had been stressed in meetings on this. A new ministerial group is to be established to take on the work of the NQ Delivery Board but no further information was available at time of the meeting. “The Education Committee agreed that the EIS would apply pressure to move this forward,” said Ms Quinn.

On SQA issues, Ms Quinn said that the Committee was provided with updates on Alternative Assessment Arrangements, Access to Scripts Working Group and the NQ 24 Working Group. It was agreed that the EIS would look into issuing advice on dual presentations now that the Cabinet Secretary had issued a letter to Directors of Education indicating that this should be in place by exception only.

Employment Relations Committee

On Benevolent Fund matters, Convener Susan Slater told Council that the Committee considered 30 applications and 27 grants totalling £87,000 were authorised. Homologation was given for 17 emergency grants, which had been authorised, by the Convener, Vice Convener and Accountant.

Three applications did not meet the criteria and were not awarded a grant. Further discussion was also had around opening up the ability to apply for grants to probationers. On Legal matters, the Committee had considered 25 cases, and was pleased to note that settlements of £212,000 had been secured on behalf of 2 members.

Equality Committee

Convener Nicola Fisher updated Council on a wide range of issues, including preliminary discussions between the department and the TIE campaign regarding a project focusing on online radicalisation. “There is currently a great deal of concern about the reach of people like Andrew Tate and others, and their influence on young people in our schools”, said Ms Fisher.

On Disability issues, Ms Fisher said that Julie Ferguson had shared information with the committee following the STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference. The key themes of the work plan are accessible travel, equality at work, social security and inclusive policy. Julie chairs the Sub-group for Deaf Blindness, which has completed a declaration defining deaf- blindness and which is now progressing to a members’ debate in the Scottish Parliament.

On Anti-Racist issues, the committee noted feedback from the Anti-racist Sub-committee regarding investigating and reporting on experiences of BAME members in relation to progression and promotion. This workstream, resulting from a 2023 AGM resolution, is ongoing.

Salaries Committee

Convener Des Morris advised Council that the SNCT Teachers’ Side pay claim for a 6.5% increase across all SNCT grades was submitted to the SNCT Employers’ Side on 22 January and has been acknowledged, but that no offer has yet been received from the employers. At a meeting of SNCT Joint Chairs on 21 February, the Teachers’ Side reiterated its position that it wished negotiations to both commence and conclude swiftly through SNCT Extended Joint Chairs, to reach settlement and enable implementation by 1 August 2024.

Moving onto the issue of any overpayment of tax as a result of late payment of the last pay settlement by local authorities, Mr Morris advised Council that detailed advice in claiming tax back will be issued to members in early March, shortly before the end of the tax year. Mr Morris noted that members will need to be in possession of their end- of-year P60 statement before they can begin the process of claiming back overpaid tax.


Miners’ strike

David Farmer (Fife) was successful in a call for the opening session of the 2024 EIS AGM to include a moment of reflection to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of the Miners’ strike campaign. “The clear aim of Thatcher’s government at that time was to crush trade unions, specifically the Miners’ union, the NUM”, said Mr Farmer.

Jury service

A motion calling on the EIS to seek a scheme of compensatory leave for teachers required to undertake jury service during school holiday periods was defeated, following considerable debate.

Moving the motion, Andrew Fullwood (Glasgow) said, “This proposal is not an ideal solution to the problem of loss of holidays due to jury service, but it would offer some compensation for loss of holiday time with a couple of days off during term time.”

Raising concerns about the implications of the motion, Nicola Fisher (Glasgow) said, “I’m not convinced about this. Juries are really important in our system of justice. It’s really important that we have juries. Is doing jury service nice? No. Is it pleasant? No. Is it important? Yes. People are entitled to justice and they are entitled to be tried before a jury of their peers.”

Speaking in support of the motion, David Farmer (Fife) said, “This is not an attack on the Jury system. If you are losing your holidays for something outwith your control, we should be looking for compensation.”

Salaries Convener Des Morris said, “Des Morris: “I think that the motion is attractive, and I am sort of torn, but I think I come down on the no side on this one. This will tie up a lot of time, for something that is not a priority issue for our members at the moment.”

Andrew Fullwood, summing up at the end of the debate, said, “This is an issue that impacts on many of our members. Yes, Jury service is very important but it is also very disruptive to the operation of schools and to our members’ holiday time.”

President Paula McEwan then called for a vote, which resulted in the motion falling on a show of hands in the hall.


Alison Murphy (Edinburgh) was successful in calling for an investigation into current response times to queries being submitted to the GTCS. “We have had a lot of members being impacted by the slow response times from the GTCS, some of them very important enquiries, and this is having serious consequences for our members,” she said.

Support for Gaza

Two motions proposed by Equality Convener Nicola Fisher, both on solidarity support for Gaza, were approved by Council.

The first motion commits the EIS to donate £5000 to each of Medicins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross to support their humanitarian work in Gaza. “The work that these organisations are doing in Gaza is incredibly dangerous, but also absolutely vital. Sometimes, they are the only people standing between the Palestinian people and certain death,” said Ms Fisher.

Speaking in support, Education Convener Susan Quinn said, “This motion takes us to the next step in our support, this is extremely important and we need to continue to do all that we can. It also sends out another very clear message on our continuing support.”

The second motion successfully called on the EIS to support the work of UNRWA, up to and including making a donation of £5000.

Moving the motion, Ms Fisher said, “The recent attacks on the agency are absolutely political, and it is important that we lobby for all countries to reinstate their funding for this agency and the vital work that they do.”

Supporting the motion, Susan Quinn said, “This agency is required to bear witness to the atrocities that are happening now, and to support people who need it. They will also be required to bear witness following any ceasefire or peace, to ensure that the terms of any peace are properly met.” And Adam Sutcliffe (Aberdeenshire) added, “Apparently, Foreign Secretary David Cameron now admits that his earlier decision to withdraw funding from UNRWA was ‘hasty’ and that the agency is the only body that can deliver sufficient aid across Gaza.”