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Tories to lead Holyrood education debate amid teacher pay dispute

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) protested over pay on November 24, with further dates expected next year. (Jane Barlow/PA)
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) protested over pay on November 24, with further dates expected next year. (Jane Barlow/PA)

A parliamentary debate led by the Scottish Tories will highlight the “rock bottom” morale of teachers in Scotland.

The party will use their parliamentary time in Holyrood on Wednesday to accuse the Scottish Government of “dismal” treatment of teachers amid job insecurity and rising school incidents.

It comes as the Times recently revealed just one in five temporary teachers secured a permanent position last year.

And teachers and school staff have had almost 75,000 physical or verbal attacks from pupils since 2017/18, freedom of information requests from the Tories showed.

Schools will be disrupted by further strike action as the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) and NASUWT will walk out on December 7 and 8.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) took industrial action on November 24, with a further 16 days planned in the new year.

The offer of a £1,926 increase for teachers on the lowest incomes – under £40,107 – and a 5% rise for higher earners was rejected by unions.

Scottish Tory education spokesman Stephen Kerr said: “The SNP’s record on education during their 15 years in charge is dismal and should be a source of shame for ministers.”

Scottish Politics Holyrood Covid 19 Scottish Parliament
Tory MSP Stephen Kerr will lead the education debate in Holyrood on Wednesday (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

He added: “While pupils have been badly damaged by the SNP’s failures, their inaction and lack of support is also having a major detrimental impact on teachers themselves.

“On the SNP’s watch, job security for teachers is reducing, while ministers are failing to take a zero-tolerance approach towards the shocking number of attacks on them and classroom assistants in our schools.

“Teachers feel abandoned by the SNP Government and morale has hit rock bottom. It is little wonder that, against this backdrop, teachers have gone on strike for the first time in almost four decades in Scotland.”

He went on to accuse Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville of being “asleep at the wheel” amid the pay disputes.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We greatly value the teaching workforce and the vital role it has in educating our future generations. Violence is never acceptable and the safety of pupils and staff is paramount.

“Scotland has more teachers now than any other time since 2008, with more teachers per pupil than any other part of the UK.”