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Education / Teaching union says schools reps backed request for home learning either side of Christmas

THE LOCAL branch of teaching union EIS says it is “disappointed” that Shetland Islands Council turned down its request to introduce remote learning before and after the Christmas break – adding that school representatives were supportive of its ask.

The EIS had requested that distant learning be in place from 18 December to 11 January in the view that it could provide a “buffer” around the holidays to allow families to isolate being going into Christmas bubbles.

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The union’s local committee also believed it would have given more people access to learning as many young people often do not attend school on the final days of term.

However, council chief executive Maggie Sandison confirmed local schools would be following their normal schedule around the festive period, citing a low incidence of coronavirus in the isles.

She addd that any changes could “cause more uncertainty and logistical challenges for everyone”.

Local EIS branch secretary Matthew Moss said while the union was disappointed by this response, the original decision on school term dates was made by the Scottish Government and “they will have undoubtedly applied pressure on councils to conform”.

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“We will continue to raise the concerns of our members and hope that councils across the country including Shetland will closely monitor the impact of the Christmas break and react appropriately whilst continuing dialogue with trade unions,” he said.

When questioned about the desire of Shetland teachers to have remote learning either side of Christmas, Moss said the EIS local executive committee is largely made up of schools reps who “clearly represent their members views and fully backed the request”.

“I also communicate with all schools reps across Shetland and have not anything other than support for our position,” he said.

“Additionally I have received emails from a number of concerned members that I have responded to.”

He added that the response across social media nationally has been “significant”.

Remote learning was introduced at the outset of the pandemic but the distant set-up received mixed reviews from pupils.

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