EIS To Present Evidence To Holyrood On Schools Cuts And Child Poverty

Scotland’s largest teaching union EIS will present evidence to the Scottish Parliament today on the rise in poverty in Scotland, and its impact on education.

EIS Assistant Secretary Andrea Bradley will say that the while the policy framework enacted by the Scottish Government is welcome, the resources provided have constantly fallen short since the onset of austerity, and this is made worse because ’progressive education policy’ requires more resources than before. They make it clear that education is not a ‘silver bullet’ to the problems of child poverty, but that constant underinvestment is making the problem worse.

The figures are stark. 4000 fewer teachers since 2007, and a 39% fall in qualified Nursery teachers - the most critical period in children’s educational development. One respondent to the EIS survey presented a damning picture:

“There have been so many cut backs within the school that the simple needs cannot be met with stationery, printing. Pupils not getting enough support due to legislation stating they don’t require it. Lots of information is reported back to the school through our attendance officer who is now losing her job due to cut backs. This vital information such as children's houses having no carpets only floor boards, will not be reported back…"

Commenting, Ms Bradley said, “The EIS believes that genuine commitment to ensuring more equal educational outcomes requires the alignment of policy with social justice principles. The removal of cost barriers associated with children’s and young people’s school attendance, and the provision of adequate and sustained resourcing to support schools, are key in assisting young people whose families are living on low incomes to overcome the many challenges that they face.”

Commenting on evidence given to the Scottish Parliament's education committee by the EIS on the impact of poverty on education, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said:

“The Scottish Government’s failure to halt Tory austerity and tackle child poverty, and its relentless cuts to council budgets, is having a direct and detrimental impact on children’s education.

“The SNP has cut £1.5bn from council services since 2011, which has damaged education and children’s future chances. The EIS, like the Child Poverty Action Group before it, is clear that pupils are missing out on a world class education because of the failure of the government to properly resource councils and schools.

“Education is clearly not the SNP’s ‘number one priority’ and their education reforms are an unwanted power grab. What we need is a government which will get a grip of the situation, properly fund our schools and give teachers the pay rise that they deserve and the resources that they need.

“Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts, invest in education and ensure our schools work for the many, not the few.”

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