Educational Institute of Scotland

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) is the oldest teachers' trade union in the world, having been founded in 1847 when dominies became concerned about the effect of changes to the system of education in Scotland on their professional status.[1] [2] The EIS is the largest teaching union in Scotland, representing 80% of the country's teachers and lecturers. As of 2014 it has 54,580 members.[3]

Educational Institute of Scotland
HeadquartersEdinburgh, Scotland
Key people
Andrene Bamford, President
Andrea Bradley, General Secretary
AffiliationsSTUC, TUC, EI

General SecretariesEdit

Hugh Cameron
1921: Tom Henderson
1941: John Wishart
1945: Alexander J. Belford
1952: William Campbell
1960: Gilbert Stewart Bryden
1975: John D. Pollock
1988: Jim Martin
1995: Ronnie Smith
2012: Larry Flanagan
2022: Andrea Bradley
A copy of the Scottish Educational Journal from 21 June 1979, in tabloid format.

Scottish Educational JournalEdit

The Scottish Educational Journal (SEJ) is the magazine of the EIS, which has been appearing, formerly in tabloid format, since ca. 1917.


Since being granted a royal charter by Queen Victoria, it is the only union able to award degrees.[4] A recipient of the EIS degree is a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland, denoted by the post-nominal FEIS.

An early example of such a degree (awarded in December 1847) was worded as follows:[5]

"The Educational Institute of Scotland


We, the Committee of Fellows of the Educational Institute of Scotland, appointed by the General Meeting which was held in the High School of Edinburgh on Saturday the 18th September 1847 to grant Diplomas to those Members admitted within the year 1847 who might be desirous of obtaining the Grade of Junior Licentiate, Senior Licentiate or Fellow, having examined the evidence produced by Mr John Gibson Smith, Schoolmaster of Ednam, in attestation of his professional attainments, experience and skill – and having found that his testimonials certify -

1st That he is qualified to teach English, Grammar, Composition, History, Geography, Writing, Arithmetic, Algebra, Natural Science, Agricultural Chemistry, Latin, Greek and French.

2nd That he has taught with acceptance and success during a period of Twenty years all the above named branches -

Do hereby, on the 11th day of December 1847, grant to the said Mr John Gibson Smith this Diploma conferring on him the Grade of Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland, with all the honours rights and privileges thereto belonging.

(Signed) L. Schmits, George S. Davidson, F.R. Low L.L.D., James Fulton, John White, Alex Reid L.L.D., Walter Nichol L.L.D., Wm. Knox."

Industrial actionEdit

Threats of industrial action by the EIS evoke memories for many of the long-running teacher strikes of the 1980s [6][7] During the 1984-86 industrial action almost 15 million pupil days were lost across Scotland.[8] It was a sustained campaign of industrial action in Scottish education in opposition to the Conservative Government. Larry Flanagan has described it as “the first time that any group of workers, anywhere in the UK, successfully stood firm in defiance of a concerted, ideologically driven attack by the Tory government.”[8]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Educational Institute of Scotland". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  2. ^ "150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCOTLAND - Early Day Motions - UK Parliament". Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  3. ^ "Educational Institute of Scotland: 2014 Annual Return" (PDF). Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  4. ^ "1851 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the EIS. Membership at the time: over 1,800. Among the powers conferred on the EIS was the power to award a degree of "Fellow of the Institute". In 2007, the EIS remains the only trade union which awards degrees." "History of the EIS". Educational Institute of Scotland. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  5. ^ Handwritten copy by John G. Smith, appended to his letter dated 28 Sep 1864 to Southland Provincial Council, New Zealand - Extracted from Southland Provincial Papers, SP 14 Immigration (at very end of Roll 32) held at Invercargill Public Library, Southland, NZ
  6. ^ "Threat of worst teaching strikes in Scotland since 1980s". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Pensions row could bring first teachers' strike since the 80s". Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  8. ^ a b Ross, Calum. "Call to "let Scots stew" during 1980s Margaret Thatcher schools row". Press and Journal. Retrieved 27 September 2021.