'˜Prove you value us' - Teaching union issues challenge to Swinney

In one of the most hard-hitting speeches on Scotland's teaching crisis, a union leader will tell fellow professionals today she is shocked that the number of teachers wanting to quit the profession is not more than 40 per cent.

In her keynote speech to the 2018 Educational Institute of Scotland annual general meeting in the Caird Hall in Dundee, Nicola Fisher, outgoing president of Scotland’s largest teaching union, will blast the Scottish Government for “not valuing” teachers.

Ms Fisher will also challenge the Scottish Government and local authorities to demonstrate they value education and teachers by significantly improving teachers’ pay and investing additional resources in schools.

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A major independent study revealed the high proportion of teachers north of the Border considering leaving the profession within 18 months, ­citing “extremely poor” working conditions.

Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: PA WireEducation Secretary John Swinney. Picture: PA Wire
Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: PA Wire

As well as highlighting the impact of pay cuts on morale and recruitment, Ms Fisher is expected to say: “What we do to teachers in this country is ridiculous. We underpay teachers. We overwork them. We tell them, incorrectly, that they are part of a failing ­system. We tell them that what they are doing in the classroom is insufficiently ‘excellent’.

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“We cut budgets and constantly expect them to do more with less. And then we’re surprised that 40 per cent want to leave the profession. I’m actually surprised that figure isn’t higher. Teachers have had enough of doing more with less and more for less. And when other countries and other careers pay more, is it any wonder that teachers are voting with their feet?”.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, said the crisis was impacting on Scotland’s young people.

“These remarks, just like those made by other teachers, should ring alarm bells for this SNP government.

“The Nationalists have had sole control over education for more than a decade yet this has all unfolded on their watch.

“We know only too well about teacher shortages and the increasing number of teachers who are choosing to leave the profession early.”

Tavish Scott MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: “Teachers want a fair financial settlement and a recognition of their workload.

“Schools have teaching vacancies across Scotland and this is why.

“There is no avoiding the conclusion many teachers do not feel they are valued or that the classroom is a good choice of career.”