Looking Ahead – the Future for Scottish Education Education was at the centre of the recent campaign ahead of the Scottish Parliament election, with each of the main parties placing a strong emphasis on how they would provide enhanced support for Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities. Now that the election is over, the EIS will work to ensure that education remains a priority for our politicians and that pre-election promises made to Scottish education, its learners and its educators, are delivered post-election. Here, General Secretary Larry Flanagan looks at some of the key issues that arose during the election and asks what the re-election of the SNP Government, albeit with no absolute majority, will mean for Scottish education in the years ahead. Then, over the page, we take a closer look at some specific SNP manifesto commitments and offer our analysis of their potential impact for Scottish education.
During the recent Scottish Parliament of overcoming the impact of poverty on nuance is often lost on journalists and election, education was certainly centre the educational attainment of those commentators. The potential direction of stage in terms of manifesto commitments affected by it is a deep and complex one. travel is ominous, however. to “close the attainment gap”, “improve Schools make a difference but action We see this echoed in the softer standards” and even to increase funding, in the classroom, in isolation, will have comments from the First Minister about in one way or another. limited impact. The government needs “Teach First” – an accelerated route into The EIS cautioned parties against to simultaneously be teaching for “This is a programme creating a narrative of failure around addressing poverty at its high flying Scottish education, simply to score party source. academics, which would political points. Whilst there remain A very real danger avoiding the fundamentally significant challenges facing schools exists that in wishing to need to become undermine our world and colleges (and indeed Universities) demonstrate progress, the a qualified we are building on significant success government looks at short teacher. This is renowned induction in our system. Even a cursory review of term approaches which a programme programme and the some of the international commentary create the illusion of action which would General Teaching on Scottish education reveals that the but which fail to address the fundamentally inclusive nature of Scottish Education, real issues. undermine our Council for Scotland” our commitment to social justice, the high National assessment/ world renowned professional standards of our teachers, our testing would induction programme and the General commitment to career long professional be a case in point. Teaching Council for Scotland. In England development building on a highly respected The First Minister has said that she “Teach First” and the Academisation induction programme – are all recognised is interested in “what works” – well we process have combined to significantly and celebrated by significant voices. know that national testing doesn’t work: demoralise the teaching profession, This success should be the starting look at the SATS programme in England; leading to the current crisis around point for any future look at the USA’s now recruitment and retention in English policy development. “The challenge of abandoned No Child schools. Intense focus Left Behind (aka No The First Minister has said that she is overcoming the impact is correctly child left untested); “not ideological” about these matters – but of poverty on the placed on closing read the recent OECD frankly she should be. These aren’t educational attainment report on Scotland the attainment incidental developments – they form gap – an aspiration of those affected by it is which cautions against part of what Pasi Salzberg, the renowned almost universally aspects of nationalised Finnish education expert, has termed a deep and complex one” standardised testing. shared by the GERM (Global Education Reform politicians, certainly one which the First Now the fact is that what is proposed in Movement). It is the agenda that Michael Minister has embraced, and an agenda the new National Improvement Framework Gove so damagingly pursued when he in which the EIS is firmly engaged. But if does not constitute high stakes national was Education Minister, still pursued by it was as simple as wishing it – we would testing, thanks in part to the EIS campaign his successors; it is the agenda driving be there already. In truth the challenge against such an approach, although the the privatisation of public education
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