EIS calls for education review to focus on support for Scottish schools

Scotland’s largest teaching union has called on the process to reform Scottish education bodies to focus its aim on improving support for the country’s schools.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) welcomed the Ken Muir review, commissioned by the Scottish Government and launched on Thursday.

The review will focus on issues such as the replacement of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the reform of Education Scotland.

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However, the EIS said it believed the key focus must remain on how best to provide enhanced support for schools, teachers and young people.

The EIS is calling for education review to focus on support for schools

In June, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommended scrapping the SQA and reforming Education Scotland. The body also warned that Scotland’s assessment system relied too heavily on exams and recommended that there is more of a focus on other types of assessment such as coursework.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS welcomes the launch of the consultation on the review led by Professor Ken Muir, which follows on from two recent reports by the OECD on Scotland’s education system.

"Those reports were largely positive in relation to Scottish education and the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), but made a number of recommendations around the wider support for Scottish education offered by governmental agencies.

"It is essential that this emphasis on improving support to schools remains the focus of the review process.”

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Mr Flanagan added: “Amongst the key issues that must be addressed is the incompatibility between Scotland’s outdated qualifications system and the key aspirations of CfE.

"The OECD’s recommendation that we should steer away from ‘traditional’ exams is something that the EIS fully supports, with a move to exit qualifications rather than a yearly cycle of high-stakes assessments as one possible solution.

"The OECD also identified a misalignment between the broad general education phase of secondary education (S1-S3) and the Senior Phase (S4-S6), and the associated impact on depth of learning for young people. All of these issues require to be addressed in the current review process.”

The EIS said it was encouraging teachers to engage with the consultation process and had begun to hold focus groups of members on key topics.

The statement was issued just 24 hours after it was announced teaching unions had declared a formal dispute with the Scottish Government and local councils after rejecting a pay offer.

The EIS and three other unions, who make up the teachers’ side of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), rejected a 1.22 per cent pay rise earlier this year, saying it was below inflation and a real terms cut.

Union officials claim Cosla and the Scottish Government had failed to respond with an improved offer.

They say there is growing frustration within the profession as teachers feel they are under-valued.

Union submitted their pay claim in December last year.

Mr Flanagan said on Thursday: “It is completely unacceptable that nine months after our pay claim was submitted, Scotland’s local authorities and the Scottish Government have failed to respond with a reasonable pay settlement to Scotland’s teachers.”

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