Invest in education now to save in the future, parties told

Political parties have been urged to invest now in education to make savings on public services in the future.

The EIS – Scotland’s biggest teaching union – launched its election manifesto at its AGM in Dundee on Friday.

The union’s general secretary Andrea Bradley urged every party to show “what you’re really made of” on education ahead of the July 4 poll.

Among the calls in the document – entitled Stand Up for Quality Education – the union demands more investment in school buildings and a “significant increase” in the number of permanently employed teachers.

Addressing delegates at the conference, Ms Bradley said under-investment in education is a “massive error of political judgment”, adding that – while education is devolved to the Scottish Parliament – Scottish MPs have a responsibility to push for greater funding, a population share of which will come north of the border.

“Politicians need to see as we do that the cost of a few million in savings in the short term will be massive in the lives of the young people whose futures hang by a thread – the young people for whom school and their teachers are a safety net,” she continued.

“The human cost of under-investing in education should be unconscionable to people who say that they’re in politics because they want to work for a better society.

“Too often, though, our politicians appear to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

“We need to go on trying to convince them to invest properly in education today because it’s the right and socially just thing to do.

“And because significant and sustained investment now will deliver huge long-term savings on health, on employability and on criminal justice for decades to come. It should be a no-brainer.

“In launching this manifesto, we urge all political parties and General Election candidates to stand up for quality education, for workers’ rights, for peace, for equality and for climate justice, alongside the EIS.

“Let’s see what you’re really made of.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Willie Rennie said the union is “right to challenge politicians”.

He added: “Scotland has dropped down the international rankings, colleges have been hit by year after year of cuts, and the poverty-related attainment gap remains stubbornly wide.

“Teachers and staff do an outstanding job, but they have been stretched thin. The SNP is slow-walking its promise on teacher contact time, and teacher numbers are actually falling.

“The colleges minister has acknowledged the stark gap in college budgets.”

Shadow education secretary Liam Kerr said: “EIS members continue to suffer due to the SNP’s mismanagement of Scotland’s education system.

“Our teachers have been hung out to dry by the SNP’s budget cuts which have caused our education standards to slip, our place in the international league tables to fall, and the attainment gap to widen.

“Teachers want to deliver quality education but are continually obstructed by the policies of this Scottish Government.

“The SNP have also presided over increasing classroom violence which they have repeatedly failed to get a grip of.

“Teachers should never be made to feel unsafe at work, and parents and pupils should never be worrying about our children being harmed at school.”