EIS takes a stand on asylum Bill

THE Educational Institute of Scotland used the experience of Scottish schools to speak out against the Bill on immigration and asylum-seekers at the TUC in Blackpool this week.

Alana Ross, the union's president, said: "In my own city of Glasgow, there are around 1,500 children of asylum-seekers in the school system. They have integrated extremely well with children from the local communities. These young asylum-seekers are ordinary children placed in extraordinary circumstances through no fault of their own.

"I would challenge our law-makers actually to go and look these children in the eye and then see if they still want to tell them that they have no right to a school education in this country."

The TES Scotland reported two weeks ago on a survey of 738 children from asylum-seekers' families in Glasgow which found that they regarded school as one of the highlights of their time in the city.

Ms Ross told delegates: "They are excellent role models for all young people due to their commitment to education. Teachers who work with these children speak in glowing terms of their enthusiasm and desire to learn. The job satisfaction teachers derive from working with these children cannot be understated. These young people want to learn and they must retain the right to learn."

The EIS was supporting a motion which opposes the proposed sections 34 and 37 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, which deal respectively with the education of asylum-seekers and the application of these proposed changes in Scotland.

The EIS says the Bill is a threat to the Scottish Parliament's devolved powers over education.

The union also took the opportunity of a UK stage to challenge the use of assessment "for its own sake". Douglas Mackie, EIS vice-president, said:

"One of the key issues in our schools for teachers, pupils and parents is the current obsession with over assessment at all levels in the education system. The result of this emphasis is teachers being forced to teach to the tests rather than concentrating on teaching and learning to meet the needs of pupils.

"We need meaningful assessment that takes a variety of forms; that avoids making clear judgments at an early age; that draws on a variety of evidence; that takes a great variety of forms; that recognises the different ways in which children learn; and that is stimulating to all involved."

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