Scotland's school becoming a political football risks putting people off becoming teachers, the EIS has warned.
The teacher’s union Secretary General Larry Flanagan told a packed fringe meeting at the SNP’s conference he regretted the loss of political consensus around Scottish education and said it was wrong to say there was a crisis.
Flanagan argued: “A real downside of that changed nature of discourse around education has been very unfortunate narrative around ‘the failure of Scottish education’. It seems to be the first phrase out the mouth of some politician and it is absolutely untrue.”
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“Scottish education is in good health and we are delivering good education outcomes across the board for young people in our schools.”
He also said it was wrong to judge the state of Scotland’s schools on their place in the international PISA results, published last December. Those results saw declines in maths, reading and science, with all three subject areas were classed as "average", with none "above average".
“The idea that Scottish education is simply failing is nonsense,” Flanagan said.
“Those pupils who sat the PISA test in 2015 were the first group of pupils who came through the new assessment arrangements. And those are the ones we’ve all agreed in retrospect were ill-served by the arrangements put in place. Those kids were the ones who were sitting assessment after assessment alongside the prelims, the build up to the exams. They actually sat these PISA at the end of march, just at the end of the unit assessment period.
“Frankly, I’m surprised they did so well because they would have been mentally exhausted after three months of unit assessments.”
He added: “It is a disservice to suggest that that group of kids somehow represent a failure in Scottish education. That same cohort of pupils, 18 months later, produced the second best results for Higher passes in the history of Scottish education.
“If things are so bad how did they manage to actually achieve that level of success in the exams we refer to the benchmarks of Scottish education.
“There’s a lot of complexity at looking at statistics but I totally reject the idea that in our schools standards are falling or that we are failing pupils.”
This narrative, he added, would undoubtedly discourage prospective teacher.
The EIS boss said there were challenges with nursery education, and unit assessments, and around FE. Flanagan said he had heared unconfirmed reports 19 staff at Glasgow’s newest college are being paid more than £100,000.
Though Flanagan, did not name the college, he told the packed meeting at the SNP Fringe, it was a very big one in Glasgow.