Teaching union urges election candidates to prioritise schools

By Jonathan Rimmer

Scotland’s biggest teaching union has pleaded with candidates not to use schools as “political footballs” in the run up to the local government elections.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which represents teachers and lecturers at all levels of education, published a manifesto setting out five priorities ahead of the May 4 vote.

The manifesto urges councils to tackle teacher’s workloads, end cuts to school budgets, and better support and staffing for pupils with additional support needs.

The EIS also calls for agreement on a national staffing standard “to protect teacher numbers and ensure consistency of provision across the country”.

General secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It is absolutely vital that all local council candidates and all political parties fully appreciate the importance of education to their communities.

“The most important message that all politicians need to hear is that our schools, teachers and learners should not be used as political footballs to score party-political points.

“All local councillors – be they party affiliated or independent; in power or in opposition – have an obligation to support the work of our comprehensive school system.

“Scottish education benefited previously from a strong commitment to a partnership approach – both between the main political parties and between local and national government. That consensus needs to be re-established to ensure stronger support for our schools.”

The EIS are also urging councils to commit to a “fair pay increase for teachers following years of pay decline”. The plea comes only a day after Scottish college lecturers voted for strike action due to a long-running pay dispute.

James McEnaney, lecturer at Glasgow City College, said: “What we need is more teachers but councils do not have the money for that, especially with the SNP centralising even more funding.

“However, I would still want to see them commit to increasing the number they employ. I would also want an explicit commitment that investment in continuing professional development (CPD) will increase.

“The big thing councils can easily do is address some of the workload problems, though, so I would want to hear exactly how they think council policies can be changed to free up teachers.”

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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