By Jack Ewing
In a letter to the First Minister, published in the Scottish Education Journal, a teacher from Fife criticised the Scottish government saying that he saw ‘little evidence’ of education being a top priority for the government.
Dean Scott, from Fife, said the government was using education as a ‘bargaining chip’ and for ‘political point scoring’. Scott, who is an SNP member, independence supporter and teacher said that: “For the first time ever I feel these aspects of my life are so much in conflict it has reached crisis point.”
One of the main concerns teachers have over education policy is pay. A survey released today, by the Educational Institute of Scotland, found the main issue that teachers would raise with the Scottish Government is pay. The survey took in the response of 12,000 teachers over a two-week period in December.
Responding to the survey, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It is no surprise that dissatisfaction over levels of pay ranked highest on the list of concerns that teachers want to see addressed.
However, frustration over high levels of workload and concerns over levels of provision for pupils with Additional Support Needs also ranked very high in the survey results.
Our main campaigning focus for the past year has been aimed at securing a significant pay increase for Scotland’s teachers and association professionals.
However, the results of this survey indicate very clearly that, while pay remains the top priority, teachers are concerned about other issues also.”
The Scottish government says it understands concerns over the education system and is working hard to address them.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:
“We have taken action to reduce teacher workload, clarifying and simplifying the curriculum framework and removing unnecessary bureaucracy, while our education reforms will also create new opportunities for career development.
We are committed to ensuring all pupils receive the support they need, and we are working closely with local authorities to improve consistency of support across Scotland.”
Specifically, on pay, the Scottish government is proposing a 9% increase with a further 3% increase a year later. However, teachers’ unions are demanding a 10% increase, and threatening to strike. College lecturers have already gone on strike. There is increasing chances that other teachers and lecturers may follow suit.
Other parties in Holyrood share the concerns of the unions. Labour said that the results of the survey were a damning indictment of John Swinney’s stewardship of Scottish education while the Lib Dems called on the Scottish government to give teachers a fair pay deal.
The Scottish Government has made education its number one priority, with the former Finance Secretary John Swinney leading the department. Critics of the Scottish Government consistently point to education as being the SNP’s biggest failing.
Dean Scott, thinks it’s time for the Scottish Government to start getting a grip of the current problems in the education system.
In his letter to the First Minister, he stated: “It is simply not possible to achieve what is expected of us in the current situation. This means that our pupils are being let down and this is simply unacceptable. It’s time for the Scottish Government to stand up and be counted.”