EIS gives an easy ride to Labour manifesto

12th July 1996 at 01:00
Labour's Scottish manifesto, intended to be a programme for government, has retained the key proposals contained in the party's contentious consultative document on education.

The major spending commitment repeats Labour's UK pledge to cut class sizes to 30 or fewer during the first three years of primary school by recycling the Pounds 12 million spent in Scotland on the assisted places scheme.

There is already a statutory agreement between unions and local authorities which limits pupil numbers in primary classes in Scotland, unlike in England, to a "normal maximum" of 33.

The Educational Institute of Scotland welcomed this and other pledges such as abolition of nursery vouchers, a "twin-track promotion structure" to encourage talented teachers to stay in the classroom, and improved co-ordination to eliminate "needless competition" between FE colleges.

But Ronnie Smith, the union's general secretary, warned: "While these crystal clear commitments are welcome, others such as the proposals for the future of nursery education and the relationship between opted out schools and local authorities need clarification. The absolute requirement is that all the policies need to be priced." Mr Smith singled out the proposed personal learning plan for every child as an example.

Labour's overall theme of improved standards in learning and teaching is underlined by a pledge to review teacher training. The party also plans a major extension in the role of the General Teaching Council, which has been pressing its case for a say over in-service training, staff development and the removal of incompetent teachers from the register.

The manifesto restates the party's tough messages on getting rid of incompetent teachers, setting "baseline competencies" for headteachers and instituting "remedial action" for failing schools.

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