Socialist Worker

Anger from unions at new SNP plan to privatise teacher training

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2557

John Swinney says private firms could bid for contracts to provide teacher training

John Swinney says private firms could bid for contracts to provide teacher training (Pic: Scottish Government/Flickr)


The EIS education union has reacted angrily to the Scottish government’s plan to involve private firms in teacher training.

Scottish National Party (SNP) education minister John Swinney is looking at a new route into teaching—and confirmed that firms such as Teach First could bid for contracts.

Teach First graduates receive university input for five weeks before being fast tracked into schools. There they deliver 80 percent of a teacher’s timetable and work towards a diploma in education over two years.

Over 20,000 march in Glasgow for independence and against Tories
Over 20,000 march in Glasgow for independence and against Tories
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EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “We strongly oppose any approach which places delivering education cheaply above guaranteeing quality education provision for all Scotland’s young people.

“The EIS does not support any erosion of that provision nor does it believe that placing unqualified graduates in schools will lead to better or more equal outcomes for those children.”

Swinney confirmed the fears of a Scottish version of Teach First when he tried to rebut a story in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Scotland magazine.

To TES’s claim that the SNP’s “new route” into teaching would bypass universities, Swinney said that “every programme will require a university partner”.

But the SNP government’s response to TES confirmed that tenders “will be open not just to universities” and that Teach First would be free to tender.

Positive

Unsurprisingly, the Tories think allowing the private sector into education is “very positive”.

They were “baffled as to why it has taken so long” for the SNP to “accept the merits” of privatisation.

Labour accused the SNP of “implementing Tory policies in our schools”. Flanagan said the introduction of the Teach First model would be a “betrayal”.

Swinney is mooting it as a solution to a recruitment crisis he created. He was the finance minister for nearly a decade.

Teacher numbers were cut by 4,000 and schools’ resources slashed as a direct consequence of his budget cuts.Successive pay cuts have reduced teachers’ wages by 16 percent.

Now some 700 teaching posts are unfilled across primary and secondary schools in Scotland.

Teachers would have a different solution to recruitment and retention problems—as Swinney, who was heckled at last year’s EIS conference, knows fine well.

First on that list would be addressing unmanageable workloads and years of pay cuts.


Is the Corbyn effect too late for Scotland?

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is set to return to Westminster as easily the largest party in Scotland.

A repeat of its 2015 landslide is unlikely, but most estimates see it retaining 40 to 50 seats which would be a convincing win.

Labours opposition to an independence vote limits its revival in Scotland
Labour's opposition to an independence vote limits its revival in Scotland
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The Tories are predicted to make gains, most likely in the north east, Borders and possibly in Edinburgh or Perth.

The party is hoping to continue to galvanise voters who are opposed to a second independence referendum.

In the past two weeks the Labour Party has recovered from its miserable poll ratings and in one poll was neck and neck with the Tories on 25 percent.

Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing manifesto is the most likely cause of this surge in support, reflecting shifts across Britain as polls narrowed ahead of 8 June.

He has given people a reason to vote Labour again.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, an outspoken critic of Corbyn, now claims she “never needed convincing” about her party’s British leader.

That’s very hard to believe and the likelihood of Labour winning many more seats than the one it currently has still looks slim.


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