Across Scotland, around 40 EIS Learning Reps are working to provide information, support, and advice about all aspects of professional learning to members within their local authority.

Learning Reps undertake substantial training for the role, which is delivered by the Trade Union Education Centre at City of Glasgow College. Curriculum Head, Mark Pollit comments:

“We are delighted to continue to deliver the Online Learning Representatives Diploma course that has been developed for EIS Learning Reps. The course has been run three times now, and the discussions, ideas, and activity generated are of great benefit to EIS members across Scotland. By considering the Learning Rep role and functions, communications with EIS officers and members, equality issues in learning, and proactive development of improvement projects, it is evident that Learning Reps are well prepared to undertake this important role.”

South Ayrshire teacher Ashleigh Evans is currently participating in the training. She takes time out to talk to the SEJ about her motivations and goals around her preparation for the Learning Rep role.

EIS: Hi Ashleigh, you are currently undertaking training to become an EIS Learning Rep. What led you to take on this role?

Ashleigh: Since starting my teaching career 10 years ago, I have had a passion for CLPL with a view to ensuring my knowledge and skills are up to the standards required. Learning Reps ensure all teachers have access to courses and learning materials that will develop their skills and abilities. Teacher agency is at the heart of what we do – encouraging teachers to lead their own CLPL agenda.

EIS: An important part of the training is designing a Professional Learning project. Can you tell us about your project?

Ashleigh: The project links EIS with a major provider of learning, the Open University. This partnership should ensure that members have access to the best resources available on a wide range of topics. Primarily we are focusing on optimising teachers’ mental health and wellbeing. I have an ongoing mental health condition and it has been severe at times. It was only when I became unwell that other teachers started to share their experiences and it was clear that the education sector can be a very stressful working environment. This was made worse by the pandemic, with teachers bearing the brunt of harsh lockdown conditions which led to them having to completely adapt their way of working. Teachers need to take matters into their own hands and look after their mental health despite the everyday challenges.

The courses on offer are free and cover a wide range of mental health related issues. These can be accessed as and when it suits the individual. Teachers can incorporate these into their PRD plans, thus giving their development needs prominence, with support from their senior management team.

EIS: What are your aims for your role, once you complete training?

Ashleigh: Relevant CLPL is a crucial part of our personal and professional development. In my role I will support members in addressing their needs as part of the education agenda in Scotland. I would like to work collaboratively with others in the EIS and in my local authority (South Ayrshire) to ensure that resources have as wide a reach as possible.

Having conversations with employers in relation to how we balance staffing issues with existing teachers’ rights to CLPL will be a top priority. I plan to be a strong voice in the EIS campaign for teacher agency, which can only be achieved when we as members feel empowered and informed. CLPL is at the heart of this and will ultimately lead to better outcomes for our learners.

Ashleigh’s project, which sets out a choice of online mental health and wellbeing courses, is available on the EIS website:

Khadija Patel, Partnerships Officer at the Open University in Scotland has worked alongside Ashleigh to develop the project, and comments:

“It’s been great to work with Ashleigh and look at resources to support members and I am delighted to see how our conversation has led to the creation of the webpage with a video clip on accessing free learning with the Open University and wellbeing courses for EIS members.”