IF parents have learned one thing during Covid, it is how hard teachers work and what a difficult, complex job they do, writes Alison Simpson, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.
But the 14-year term of this SNP government has failed pupils and teachers.
The Scottish educational system used to be the envy of the world. We’ve slid down the international rankings. One in 10 teachers is on a temporary or short-term contract. No wonder they’re demoralised.
Attainment for children from deprived backgrounds shows significant gaps for reading, writing, and numeracy, from primary through to secondary school.
The SNP set its “defining mission” to close these gaps. At the rate they’re going, it’ll take another 35 years.
Education became a mess as the SNP’s “top priority”. Imagine how bad things will get when it plays second fiddle to a referendum.
Children have missed out on education during the pandemic and we need to help them bounce back.
Liberal Democrats got extra funds in the budget to help education: more in-class support; a guaranteed job for every teacher to cut class sizes; new work with teachers to get literacy and numeracy standards back up; a summer programme of activities to rebuild lost social skills.
We commit to working with teachers to review workloads and pay.
We’ll let teachers lead change in the way we teach the basics – numeracy and literacy – without which the door is shut to all learning, and put teachers at the heart of the SQA and Education Scotland, which have let us down during Covid.
Finally, further education has become the poor relation. We’ll restore colleges to a powerful role in local economic development, training people of all ages in the skills they need to start or change careers.