Teachers have thanked parents for their “phenomenal” support as strike action closed secondary schools across Scotland – resulting in exams being rescheduled for some older pupils.
Andrea Bradley, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), highlighted the support given to teachers on picket lines as she said the Scottish Government has “miscalculated the mood of parents towards the teachers”.
She said the National Parent Forum had found in excess of 80% of parents back the strike action – being taken as part of a dispute over pay – despite the disruption caused to learning.
Ms Bradley said this would cause “some consternation” with the Government and local authority leaders in Cosla.
She said: “I think as well miscalculating the mood of teachers and miscalculating that we would not pass the threshold in the ballot, as well as miscalculating that we actually meant it when we said we would go on strike in pursuit of 10%, they have also miscalculated the mood of parents towards the teachers who serve the school communities the length and breadth of this country.
“There’s a series of miscalculations by the Scottish Government.”
She insisted politicians need to show more urgency in pay talks with the Scottish Negotiating Committee For Teachers – which brings together the Scottish Government, Cosla and teaching unions.
Prior to teacher strikes in November, Ms Bradley said Government ministers had been “nonchalant” at best in their attitude to the negotiations.
She added that the failure to put forward an increased offer is an “indication of a lack of seriousness with which the Scottish Government and Cosla have taken Scottish teachers”.
Ms Bradley said: “The conversations on Monday of this week, and even on Friday of last week, with the Cabinet Secretary, albeit outwith the structures of the SNCT, give us some hope, a tiny chink of optimism that perhaps they are beginning to listen up, they’re beginning to wise up and to think about the next offer they’re going to bring to the table.”
Wednesday’s action involves members of the EIS, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association and NASUWT, and comes after a strike by primary school teachers across Scotland on Tuesday.
The unions rejected the latest offer – which would see most teachers get a 5% pay rise and the lowest earners receive 6.85%.
Instead they are demanding 10%, with the EIS scheduled to begin a rolling programme of strike action next week which will see members walk out in two council areas a day over a 16-day period.
Earlier, Mike Corbett of the NASUWT union told how Wednesday’s action would impact on some exams.
He told the PA news agency: “A lot of schools have their prelims in January and there’s no doubt that there will be some schools around who will have had some preliminary exams scheduled for today, that they have had to shift.”
Scotland’s Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville on Tuesday said she will leave “no stone unturned” to bring about a quick resolution to the teacher strikes.
Mr Corbett said: “We noted the Cabinet Secretary’s statement to the Scottish Parliament about leaving no stone unturned in seeking a resolution.
“We will take her at her word and hope to see a revised offer, and hope to see a resolution of the dispute.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously spoken about her “regret” that there is industrial action in schools.
“I don’t think that’s in the interest of young people at all,” the First Minister said.
“That said, I understand the strength of feeling of teachers and we highly value the teaching profession.”
But with the Scottish Government having dismissed the claim for 10% as “unaffordable”, Ms Sturgeon added: “I can’t create additional funding that we don’t have and I’ve tried to be really honest with unions across the public sector.
“We’re trying to be as fair as possible while maximising pay increases.”