Looking ahead to an Education-led recovery

Welcome to SEJ Digital April 2021

Although we still have a long way to go before we are free from the Covid pandemic, the roll-out of vaccines and general downward trend in levels of infection do offer legitimate cause for optimism. The promise of better days ahead provides us with reason for hope, even as we continue to live with restrictions in most aspects of our lives.

The EIS has always been clear that, as the country works its way back from the pandemic, the role of education must be absolutely central to the nation’s recovery. With the elections to the Scottish Parliament set to take place in May, the EIS has been calling on all political parties to commit to enhanced support for Scottish education to support the recovery.

As we highlight in our Cover Feature this month, the EIS has published its own Manifesto for Education ahead of the Holyrood elections. In it, we make the case for increased investment to support an education-led recovery – including substantial investment in the recruitment of additional teachers to support that recovery.

Throughout the pandemic, Scotland’s political parties have repeatedly emphasised the importance of education, and educators, to the national recovery. The EIS absolutely agrees with this sentiment, but we are also extremely clear that it will take more than fine words from politicians to deliver this ambition.

Young people have suffered through an extremely traumatic experience, and must be properly supported as education begins to gradually return to a more classroom-based approach to learning and teaching. Schools cannot just be left alone and expected to ‘get on with it’, but must be provided with the additional funding, resources and staffing to support young people in education recovery.

Far too often, education is expected to solve society’s wider problems. We have seen this in relation to the impact of poverty on young people, where schools were expected to solve this serious societal issue in isolation. Schools cannot now be expected to solve the many wider challenges created by the pandemic.

As part of our coverage of the Scottish elections, we have asked each of Scotland’s five largest political parties to share their views on the EIS’s manifesto and, also, to outline their own commitments to supporting Scottish education. You can read their responses on pp8-11 of this edition.

While looking ahead to recovery from the pandemic, the EIS is also continuing to focus on the drive to make schools safe places to work and to learn. The Scottish Government’s decision that all pupils should return to schools before Easter was questioned by the EIS, as we continued to urge a cautious approach to reduce the risk to staff and students.

Our campaign for government to ‘Protect Education’ – by offering staff priority for vaccinations, providing medical grade masks, and ensuring proper ventilation in classrooms – continues. The EIS remains very clear that, if keeping education establishments open is a priority, protecting those who work and learn within them must also be a priority.

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April 2021

Vol 105 / Issue no. 03 / April 2021