EIS launches first manifesto linked to local elections
Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, this week launched its first manifesto linked to local government elections - a sign of the importance it attaches to councils' input to education.
From class sizes to additional support needs services, it set out a list of priorities for supporting a high-quality education system across Scotland and urged candidates of all political affiliations to consider them.
The EIS president, Alan Munro, said that although the national government set national policy, it was for local government to deliver it - and while that could be a good thing in terms of local accountability, it could lead to a postcode lottery.
For that reason, the EIS is calling for the introduction of a national staffing standard in schools.
Additional support needs required increased funding, added Mr Munro.
"The ASL Act and Getting It Right for Every Child policy - if these are ever to be realised in the appropriate way - require specialist training. Early intervention strategies require educational psychologists to be available; English for Speakers of Other Languages needs to be properly funded. You can't get proper ASN on the cheap," he said.
Larry Flanagan, the EIS's incoming general secretary, criticised councils across the board for abandoning the previous class-size average of 20 pupils in English and maths across S1-2, over the last four to five years. "That has had an impact - pupils are achieving less well in English and maths," he said.
Glasgow City Council, using 5-14 measures, had achieved higher attainment statistics for English and maths at that stage than it did now, having abandoned its smaller class sizes, claimed Mr Flanagan.
He added: "Any cuts which impact on classroom practice will impact on young people's chances. Why should our children pay?"
When class sizes had been at 20, parents had appreciated the benefits, he said, but they were less aware of the impact of the increased class sizes.
Mr Munro added that the EIS would welcome a debate on whether the current 32 local authorities should continue to run education.
maintain teacher numbers;
work to reduce class sizes;
resource the development of CfE in schools;
improve levels of support staff working in schools;
maintain and develop instrumental music teaching in schools;
protect CPD (continuing professional development);
protect and maintain school buildings;
make decisions on school closures only on sound educational grounds;