Scotland’s largest teaching union is calling for increased funding for education in a new manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliament election.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has published the Standing Up for Scottish Education manifesto calling on political parties to commit to protecting and promoting the country’s education.
Key demands include a legal entitlement to nursery education for young children, reduced class sizes, no return to school league tables and a fairer pay deal for teachers and lecturers.
The manifesto also calls for the ring-fencing of education service funding in a rejection of austerity cuts and for Scotland’s comprehensive system to be protected against “ideological attacks” on state-run schools.
Last year the union accused the Scottish Government of abandoning policies to protect teacher numbers and reduce class sizes after figures revealed half of councils cut teachers leading to a rise in pupil-teacher ratios.
Union leaders have been keen to stress that the EIS is not affiliated to any political party, so the manifesto “does not promote the policies of any individual party or encourage members to vote for any particular party.”
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “As we move closer to the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May, education seems to be high on the list of priorities for Scotland’s political parties.
“The EIS welcomes this focus on education and the fact that each of Scotland’s main political parties has publicly acknowledged the need to enhance the support available to education.
“We will be sharing our manifesto and our priorities with all political parties, and seeking their views and commitments on how they will enhance Scottish education and increase its levels of funding in the years ahead.”
SNP MSP George Adam said: “The EIS and the SNP in government have shared aims – ensuring a system that delivers for every child in Scotland and which closes the gap in attainment between the richest and poorest students.”
Meanwhile lecturers at colleges in Glasgow have announced that they will not take part in two planned national strikes next week. It follows a decision by the city’s three further education colleges to join a national pay bargaining system.
Members of the EIS union at other colleges across Scotland are due to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday in a separate dispute over pay.
Cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning Angela Constance said: “I’m very pleased that the dispute in Glasgow Colleges over national bargaining is at an end. The priority now is for both sides to work together to settle the national dispute to prevent any further disruption to students.”
Mr Flanagan added: “While these Glasgow disputes are settled, the national action in pursuit of a fair national pay offer and pay equality in all colleges will continue.”
The Glasgow lecturers will now be balloted to decide if they join future action in the wider pay dispute.