This week I raised specific questions with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney about the lack of funding in our schools.
Mr Swinney is pushing ahead with a number of education reforms but, in my view, is failing to address the key issues for education which are the cuts in recent years and the increasing bureaucracy and workload being piled on teachers.
I have made a point of trying to meet teachers to hear first-hand what they have to say. From this I think there are a number of key concerns which include:
- Class sizes are, in many cases, far too large and make frontline teaching and learning more difficult
- The cuts to classroom assistants has had a negative impact on teaching and learning
- In many schools they struggle to get the books and learning materials to support teaching and learning
- Teachers are run off their feet
Mr Swinney is not putting in additional resources to address these issues. When I have asked teachers what should be a priority they have continually said we need more teaching assistants in the classroom supporting teaching and learning. Following my questions to the Cabinet Secretary this week I have followed up with a letter pointing this out.
I am also concerned that whilst the principles that sit behind Curriculum for Excellence are good, I do think the introduction has fallen short of what is needed and there has to be serious question marks over the role of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland. I would question whether these organisations are needed as I think they have let Scotland down and it therefore seems strange that Mr Swinney is investing more power and authority with them.
The reforms Mr Swinney is pushing through with the support of the Tory Party in the parliament are setting up new regional structures, creating further bureaucracy and non-teaching directorship type jobs and not addressing the issues in our schools.
Some key facts
- Over 4,000 fewer teachers than when the SNP came to power
- 1,000 fewer support staff than when the SNP came to power
- Class sizes bigger than when the SNP came to power
- Spending per pupil across all ages since 2012 has gone down
- If pupil spend had remained at 2010/11 levels, primary schools would be £726
- million better off in total and secondary schools would be £308 million better off
- If teachers’ wages had increased in line with inflation teachers would be between £4,427 and £5,889 better off
The greatest gift we can give any child is the support and education to achieve their full potential. Sadly, too many children are not getting this and the proposals from the SNP government fall very short of addressing the issues and challenges.