Union to ‘strongly resist’ tech that replaces teachers

Class sizes, workload, music and additional support needs will also feature at gathering of Scotland’s largest teaching union

Henry Hepburn

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The use of technology in schools will come under the spotlight from Scotland’s biggest teaching union this week.

A series of motions to the annual general meeting of the EIS, which starts in Perth on Thursday, will address the potential pitfalls of an overreliance on technology.

The East Dunbartonshire local association will call for the union’s council to “reiterate the principle that every classroom should have a qualified teacher and strongly resist any moves to use distance-learning models via technology as an alternative to this”.

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The impact of distance learning also drives a motion from the Midlothian local association, “to oppose moves towards the use of virtual headteachers as a means of replacing headteachers or as a substitute for headteachers within schools”.

Virtual learning has been promoted in Scotland as a way of counteracting teacher shortages, particularly in more remote communities that might otherwise struggle to offer certain subjects.

Meanwhile, the East Renfrewshire local association will call for an investigation into the use of branded educational technology – such as Google Classroom – “in all educational establishments”.

The EIS AGM will also vote on whether the time teachers spend in the classroom should be cut to 17.5 hours a week, and on having a maximum class size of 25.

It comes after teachers won a 13.51 per cent pay increase, staggered over three years, following a long campaign that could have led to historic strike action.

Among the rest of the 59 motions to be considered, the Falkirk local association will call for a campaign against the recent removal of registration periods in Falkirk secondary schools. Dumfries and Galloway and Midlothian, meanwhile, will jointly demand free instrumental music tuition for all children.

As the final agenda for the three-day EIS AGM was published today, general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “This year’s event comes following the significant success of the EIS campaign on teachers’ pay – a campaign that was originally outlined in an AGM debate two years ago. While the Value Education, Value Teachers campaign has achieved its aims on improving pay, this year’s AGM will seek to move forward related campaigning issues, such as tackling severe workload, reducing class sizes and improving ASN (additional support needs) provision.”

Mr Flanagan added: “The AGM will shape the priorities for the EIS, and for Scottish education, in the year ahead. While teachers have clearly welcomed the success of the campaign on pay, there are many other challenges that must be addressed to ensure that Scotland’s education system can continue to offer the best opportunities for all young people.”

This year’s Special Category EIS Fellowship will go to Professor Rowena Arshad – head of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland – who will speak during the AGM’s opening session on Thursday.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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