Survey gives ‘clear picture’ of challenges facing Scottish education

Research by the Educational Institute of Scotland has highlighted the difficulties which must be overcome before schools can reopen.

By Neil McGrory, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 28th May 2020, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 2:03 pm
Children of key workers attend one of the hubs at Juniper Green Primary School, Edinburgh.
Children of key workers attend one of the hubs at Juniper Green Primary School, Edinburgh.

More than 26,000 members of the teaching union responded to the online survey.

General secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS surveyed its members, to seek teachers’ views on the challenges that have been presented to education during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We received an unprecedented level of response, with almost 60 per cent of teachers responding to the online survey in just one week. This has given us a very clear picture of the challenges that Scottish education, its pupils and teachers, have faced during the lockdown and will continue to face even once schools re-open following the summer.

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He added: “There is much to be encouraged about in these findings, including good provision in Hub schools for the children of key workers and a strong commitment to supporting young people and their families in home learning.

“There are, however, also some significant causes for concern such as the real challenge of maintaining social distancing in a school environment and how best to ensure that more vulnerable young people and those experiencing disadvantage associated with poverty can receive appropriate support during this crisis.

“Our survey findings identify many challenges that education will continue to face for months, if not years, to come.”

Many teachers reported positive experience of the move to a blend of hub provision and home learning.  Over one-third had been involved in Hub provision in their local authority area on a voluntary basis and felt particularly positive about how well provision had been delivered for children of key workers and health and safety procedures

Half of the teachers polled felt that there had been clear guidance on who should and should not be entering Hubs, while 44 per cent felt that social distancing of two metres had been maintained at all times.

More than 90 per cent of teachers believed the most important issue concerning reopening schools was a need for clarity over how teaching and learning will be delivered in the next academic year.

Most  teachers believed that there was a critical need for time to prepare  a more ‘blended’ approach to learning – including limited time for pupils in a school environment plus  significant use of online learning at home.

Almost two thirds of teachers agreed that certain categories of pupils should be prioritised in a phased return to school, with 23 per cent calling for universal part time schooling.

Pupils identified as being high priority included those on the child protection register, children with a challenging home environment, those transitioning to secondary school, children with additional support needs, children of key workers and children pursuing external qualifications.

Teachers felt positive about the expectations from their school and  parents regarding the level and type of support for children’s home learning, although primary school teachers were more confident than secondary school teachers.