John Swinney warned of strike over schools policy

A teacher has issued a warning to Scotland's Education Minister, John Swinney, that two primary schools in her area are considering strike action because staff cannot cope with the number of pupils with additional support needs. (ASN)

Speaking at the Educational Institute of Scotland’s 2018 annual general meeting in Dundee, Joan Lennon, an EIS rep from South Lanarkshire, said: “Social inclusion, Mr Swinney, is not working. Teachers can’t deliver, Mr Swinney, because they are struggling to deal with the number of vulnerable children and also parenting the parents.

“Budget cuts means children who would have been catered for in specialist units are put into mainstream schools.”

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Teachers in Scotland urged to prepare for strike action
Education Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA WireEducation Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA Wire
Education Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA Wire

Latest figures reveal over 26 per cent of pupils in Scotland have ASN – including autism, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and emotional and behavioural problems. However, Paul Jeffrey, an EIS rep from Fife, said the number was higher in some areas.

“On average the figure given is one in four pupils have some degree of additional needs.

“But in disadvantaged areas the number is one in three children.”

Gillian Gillespie, a teacher from Fife, said there was often no provision for ASN pupils, their behaviour disrupted other pupils’ education and the problem was even worse in open-plan schools where “disruption” spread into other teaching spaces.

A motion was passed calling for the EIS’s council to investigate the impact of having multiple children with ASN in a mainstream classroom.

Hundreds of teachers from all over Scotland attended a rally outside the Caird Hall yesterday afternoon in support of the union’s ongoing pay rise campaign.

Repeating their earlier threat of strike action, speakers said they wanted to send Swinney the message “Pay us our ten per cent or school is out”.