EIS needs a lesson in facing financial realities

GIVEN the huge cuts in public spending which face the UK, including Scotland, few areas of the public sector are likely to emerge unscathed from the financial firestorm. For that reason, there is a growing anxiety among public sector workers over the future.

Against that background, we have to consider the threat of the first teachers' strike in more than two decades, as the EIS considers a one-day stoppage to protest against cuts in spending.

The union's concern over potential cuts to state schools is undoubtedly genuine, as we, and they, do not yet know how much the Scottish Government will be providing for councils, which fund schools, next year. But it is hard to see how taking strike action can help their cause.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If teachers walk out, who will suffer the most? Not the kids, who just enjoy an extra day's holiday; working parents certainly; the teachers definitely, who could lose pay.

The EIS should remember that, over the boom years of devolution, there has been a significant increase in the levels of spending on education, including on teachers' pay.

Teachers should also take cognisance of the fact that spending per pupil in Scotland is well above England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

While the EIS and its members are right to raise concerns over funding – concerns that will be shared by most parents – they should remember that education is funded more generously in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

Against that background, it is difficult to see what justification there is for militancy. Teachers are justly proud of their profession, and professionals they are indeed. But a professional attitude requires realism about difficult circumstances and adaptability to deal with them.