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Union manifesto sets out stall for next Parliament

Scotland's largest teaching union, representing more than 60,000 members across various education sectors, has set out its demands for the next Scottish Parliament.

The Educational Institute of Scotland's manifesto, entitled Making Education a Priority in the Scottish Elections, says education has to be defended in the face of widespread budget cuts.

The way out of the economic crisis lies in part through "a well- educated and well-developed workforce" which in turn requires a properly-funded education system, it argues.

The EIS therefore calls on the next crop of MSPs to delay the introduction of the new National 4 and 5 qualifications for at least a year, maintain teacher numbers, cut class sizes, guarantee sufficient levels of support staff, and maintain and develop the instrumental music service - among a long list of other demands.

It expresses no view on which political party its members should support, but urges teachers to "use your vote on May 5 and to vote for a high- quality education system in Scotland".

The teacher union wants to see better workforce planning, providing sufficient jobs for qualified teachers and access to quality continuing professional development.

In the face of demands from local authorities and the current Scottish Government for a wage freeze in the public sector for anyone earning more than pound;21,000, it warns that "the present situation of a wage freeze while inflation continues to rise is not sustainable".

And it sets its face against another cost-saving demand from some local authorities - that class contact time be increased.

With shared headships on the increase in the primary sector, the EIS states: "Every school should have its own headteacher."

It also firmly rejects alternative forms of school management - such as "free" schools set up by parents - which are being introduced in England and other parts of Europe.

"The comprehensive school as it has developed in Scotland should be supported and encouraged to develop," the teacher union insists.

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