Industrial action in schools: an open letter to learners

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville outlines support for pupils during industrial action, particularly for those preparing for exams.

Dear Learner,

I would like to reassure you that I am doing everything I can to resolve the pay dispute with the teaching unions and bring an end to industrial action. I know the disruption caused by strikes will be a particular worry for those of you who are preparing for exams.

I have written to councils asking them to consider how secondary schools can remain open on strike days for learners preparing for exams. This is decided by councils on a school by school basis and you and your family will hear directly if your school can be open for you on future strike days.

As was the case during the pandemic, a wide range of study support is available through the National e-Learning offer (NeLO) which you can access when schools are closed. This includes thousands of live, recorded and other online resources that support learning and revision. I have set out below the wider support package that is in place to help you prepare for your exams.

We are also continuing to work with partners, including the SQA and councils, on contingencies for the exams themselves, should industrial action continue.

We very much hope, however, that the pay dispute will be resolved soon and that these contingencies will not be required. 

The Scottish Government, our agencies and your council will continue to do everything we can to support you in the run up to and during the exam diet.

Support throughout the year

The NeLO site offers a searchable database of nearly 25,000 senior phase resources for learners across hundreds of courses. This includes over 3,000 recorded lessons, created by Scottish teachers. Learners in all 32 local authorities access NeLO regularly.

In addition, there are a wide range of offers from local authorities and the Regional Improvement Collaboratives, often with partners.  For example:

Easter study support

As was the case last year - as part of NeLO - live, interactive Easter Study Support webinars for Senior Phase pupils will run from 3 to 14 April.  Webinars will be available to support learners with 80 different qualifications across 30 subjects. The offer includes courses at SCQF levels 4-7 (National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher).  Letters were sent to Directors of Education informing them of the offer on 21 February and registration will be launched for learners on 1 March.

Exam support

Modifications to the 2022 National Qualifications are being continued in the 2023 academic session.  SQA have issued the 'Your National Qualifications' booklet, and will include study and exams tips in the 'Your Exams' booklet in mid-March.  Recognising the continued impact of COVID the SQA, has confirmed a sensitive, evidence-based approach to grading this year which will benefit learners. 

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Shirley-Anne Somerville

Back to top