Schools in Scotland facing biggest curriculum challenge of this century

The country’s largest teaching union has welcomed the clarity provided by the planned re-opening of Scotland’s schools in August.

By Julie Currie
Friday, 22nd May 2020, 12:30 pm
Getting back to school...is potentially the biggest curriculum challenge this century, according to the country’s largest teaching union the EIS.

However, The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said significant challenges still remain over managing the move back to classes effectively.

And it is calling for three conditions to be met before schools reopen, namely:

* Full test trace and isolate capacity to be established;

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* A programme for implementing all public health advice, for example physical distancing, in schools;

* Demonstrable evidence that the virus is under control with a lower R rate and reductions in new cases.

According to the EIS, these remain the yardsticks which must be applied for teachers to feel confident in returning to classrooms full time.

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said: “Our members will welcome the clarity provided by the First Minister’s announcement and 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.

“The EIS has worked constructively with the Scottish Government and 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 well-being 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.”

More than 26,000 teachers from every local authority in Scotland took part in a recent EIS survey, which highlighted some of the challenges that schools continued to face.

Some 93 per cent of teachers said clarity over how teaching and learning will be delivered in the next academic year was crucial and 77 per cent said there was a critical need for adequate time to prepare for the delivery of a more ‘blended’ approach to learning – an acute challenge if staff are also supporting remote learning and hub provision.