Welcome to SEJ Digital May 2021

Return to ‘new normal’ cannot mean ‘business as ususal’

As the country continues to make progress in overcoming the Covid pandemic, and as more and more of society begins to return to something approaching normal, the prospect of a programme of recovery must start to come into focus.

The recent Scottish Parliament election was dominated by two issues. The first was the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence while the second, and far more prominent for all parties, was the issue of supporting post-Covid recovery.

For the EIS, delivering national recovery is predicated on supporting educational recovery. In the run up to the election, our Manifesto for education and associated Hustings events were based around the need for enhanced support for education to support the national recovery.

Unusually, all of Scotland’s main political parties were in agreement during the election campaign on this issue, and all pledged increased support for schools, colleges and universities to support education recovery.

As has been widely acknowledged by all, education is essential to the wider national recovery. As the country seeks
to work its way out of the inevitable economic consequences of the pandemic, the availability of a well educated and highly skilled workforce will be absolutely vital.

The EIS has been pushing for the employment of additional teachers, in permanent posts, as an essential step supporting education recovery. It is significant that each of Scotland’s main political parties also made commitments to recruit additional teaching staff in the run up to the election. The largest party, the SNP, pledged to recruit an additional 3,500 teachers and classroom assistants while the other parties all made similar commitments to employ more school staff.

This pledge must be delivered. There is a clear need for more staff in schools, and a clear political commitment – from all of the parties in the Scottish Parliament – to deliver them.

For too long, education has been underfunded and under-appreciated. We cannot return to the old days where budget-cutting and balancing the books were seen by government as more important than guaranteeing a quality education for all. All parties in the Scottish Parliament, as well as national and local government, must work together for the sake of our young people and for the benefit of the entire country.

The time for partisan politics has passed – working collegiately to support Scotland’s recovery must be part of the ‘new normal’ in the post-Covid world.

It’s the AGM, but not quite as you know it

The EIS Annual General Meeting is one of the key events within the Scottish education calendar and the sovereign decision-making body of the Institute. Last year, the AGM was significantly curtailed by the Covid pandemic which was still in its fairly early stages.

The 2020 AGM was held online, but the content of the event was greatly reduced with only essential business (such as the approval of the Institute’s accounts and planned expenditure) being processed.

This year, with mass meetings still not possible, the AGM will again be held online. The good news, however, is that the AGM will be much more like a ‘normal’ event, with a full programme of events including a wide range of Motions set to be debated.

Over the past year, we have all become far better acquainted and much more comfortable with online meetings. Improvements in technology during this period make holding a full AGM far more achievable and, having looked at all the available options, the EIS Executive took the decision to run a full AGM online this year.

Holding the event online will allow delegates to play a full part in the AGM, and to debate the key issues that will form the basis of EIS priorities in the year ahead. Full coverage of the EIS AGM will be available via the EIS website and social media channels, allowing more members than ever before to engage with the Institute’s most important event as it happens.

It is sure to be an interesting and informative experience for all concerned.

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Scottish Educational Journal

Vol 105 / Issue no. 03/ May 2021