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EU plea to upgrade teachers welcomed

A draft European Commission white paper on education and training supports the teachers' view that the Government should have an honest look at the resources required for a modern education system, the Educational Institute of Scotland has claimed.

Ronnie Smith, union general secretary, said the paper calls for improvements in the "situation, status and career of teachers" and that "there can no be real progress in education unless there is recognition of the central role of the teacher".

Mr Smith said: "The European Union commitment to the status of teachers and lecturers will strike a chord in Scotland at a time when schools and education are facing another severe round of cuts in expenditure. We shall await with particular interest the response of the UK government and the Scottish Office to the call for increased public support and resources for education, particularly in the areas of disadvantaged."

The paper is said to place broad-based education at the heart of a new Europe, a view endorsed by the EIS.

Meanwhile, the union has launched a "Pupils' Charter", aimed at parents, setting out the level of service pupils are entitled to expect. It argues for quality education provision, including a teaching environment where school buildings are "structurally sound, well heated and ventilated, well decorated, clean and attractive".

Mr Smith also emphasised that pupils should ensure that their teachers are treated with respect and dignity. He observed: "The nature of the relationship between pupil and teacher has changed quite fundamentally over the last 20 years."

He also believed the "obsession" with testing and assessment was destroying the joy of learning. The charter, he continued, set out real priorities when the Government seemed "blindly committed" to its own agenda of promoting opting out and the private finance initiative.

In a third development, the EIS is opening a campaign on equality in schools and colleges. "We know, for example, that there are still many establishments where there is no, or adequate, access for disabled people," Mr Smith said.

The union has praised the General Teaching Council for encouraging people with disabilities to enter teaching. Such staff represented a positive role model for all youngsters.

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