The May meeting of EIS Council, the final one of this session, was a relatively low-key affair in comparison to recent meetings.
Council looked back at the long-running Pay Attention campaign and ahead to the EIS’s next campaign priorities for the year ahead. With the Annual General Meeting set to take place in early June, Council also looked ahead to the motions and Amendments set to be debated by AGM delegates in Aviemore.
President-elect Paula McEwan (Inverclyde) reported on the work of the Executive Committee.
The Finance Sub Committee had recommended a 5% increase in membership subscriptions, rather than the application of the usual formula (i.e. increasing subs in line with increases in teacher pay scales) which would have resulted in a 7% increase for the year.
The President Elect also told Council that the Strategy Sub-Committee would meet, prior to AGM, to discuss the next campaign priorities for the EIS – focused on funding of education and including elements of key priorities including workload, teacher numbers, class sizes, ASN, and pupil behaviour. There will be a soft launch of the next campaign at the AGM, with a plan to get materials into schools before the summer.
Des Morris, Salaries Convener, said that Council members would be aware of the ballot result in relation to the 2022/2023 pay agreement, announced at the last Council, and the issues related to the payment of back-pay. The majority of Councils failed to make back-pay payments in the last financial year. The EIS did write to all local authorities urging them to pull out all the stops to ensure teachers received their back pay in the same financial year, and the EIS has advised members on the process for reclaiming overpayments from HMRC, said Mr Morris.
On class contact time, Mr Morris told Council, “We were advised by the Scottish Government that their manifesto commitment on the reduction in class contact time is now on-ice. We must begin to exert maximum pressure on the Scottish Government for this commitment to be delivered, and fiercely resist any attempt to back down from or water down this commitment.”
On pensions, Mr Morris said that he wanted to advise Council on the current situation regarding the pensions dispute at Hutchesons’ Grammar school. “There is currently a full-scale assault on the terms and conditions of teaching staff at Hutchesons’. Scottish Government Ministers have, so far, been notably silent in their comment on the situation at Hutchesons,” he said.
Convener Susan Quinn told Council that the Committee continues to have a range of workstreams around education reforms and we have submitted our contribution in relation to the different areas. “We encourage members to engage in the different reviews as they come out, but we are aware there are significant time restraints in relation to this that can become problematic.
“The EIS continues to be aware, in terms of the Hayward Review, that one size doesn’t fit all. High-stakes exams and the pressure associated with them is not in the best interests of all young people. We have to be mindful of workload implications for our members, but we also are acutely aware of the opportunities to deliver a qualifications process that works better for the young people of Scotland,” said Ms Quinn.
Employment Relations Committee
Susan Slater, Vice Convener, told Council, “Our last meeting was the most difficult Employment Relations Committee that I have ever sat on, as there were 57 applications for benevolent assistance – an unprecedented number, that reflects the current impact of the cost-of-living crisis on our members. 55 grants were approved, totalling £158,000. This time last year, the committee considered 14 cases.”
Convener Nicola Fisher told Council that planning for the Equality Fringe at AGM is progressing, where the hope is to have a lively event including music.
The Committee received an update on the EIS sample survey on LGBT+ discrimination in educational establishments, the findings of which will inform future EIS work in this area.
The EIS participated in the recent NEU “Free School Meals for All” conference, an invite having been extended in recognition of the EIS’s prominent stance and important campaigning on this issue.
Council approved motions on a range of matters including: EIS health & safety support for members (Mover: Andrew Fullwood, Glasgow); electronic voting in internal EIS elections (Mover: Tom Britton, Edinburgh); campaigning for electronic voting for elections and industrial action ballots (Mover: Alison Murphy, Edinburgh); death in Service support (Mover: Alison Murphy); reviewing procedures for national office bearer elections (Mover: Claire Robertson, Edinburgh).
EIS Office Bearers
The new President elect is Paula McEwan, a primary teacher from Inverclyde. Paula became the Local Association Secretary for Inverclyde in 2017. Ms McEwan is a long-standing member of Council and has served on Executive, Education and Salaries Committees.
The new Vice-President elect is Allan Crosbie, a Principal Teacher of English at James Gillespie’s High School. He is a current member of Executive, Salaries and Equality Committees. Both Ms McEwan and Mr Crosbie will formally assume their new roles at the AGM in June, when Andrene Bamford will move into the post of Ex-President.