A job guarantee for teachers and an end to standardised national testing are among a series of proposals aimed at improving Scotland’s education system.
As part of recommendations focused on schools, there are also calls for a review of pay and conditions for teachers, as well as a cutting of class sizes.
The suggestions have been brought forward by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, with the party’s education spokesperson Willie Rennie pledging to “empower” teachers.
Under the teacher job guarantee, the party has said, every qualified teacher would be employed on a permanent basis.
Three-year packages for probationer teachers for specific areas is also an idea that has been suggested, with the target of resolving the issue of hard-to-fill teaching posts.
The party has also called for an urgent reform of assessment of pupils to introduce a system “free from political manipulation” and which provides adequate support for all learners to achieve their potential.
Among the party’s other proposals, there would be a change to education guidance to help focus funds on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.
The Scottish Government has stated that it will “always give careful consideration” on how school education can be built on.
Rennie claimed that that SNP has chased “headlines and spurious gimmicks” during their time in power at Holyrood.
“Education across Scotland has taken a major blow but it is not just thanks to the global pandemic,” he said.
“The SNP have had 15 years to make a serious impact on educational attainment in more deprived areas yet have made not one concerted attempt, based on what actually works, to do so. They chase headlines and spurious gimmicks.
“The SNP’s pledges to cut class sizes and improve provision for pupils with additional support needs were never worth the paper they were written on.
“Instead class sizes are spiralling, and teachers are suggesting that behaviour in classrooms is worsening.”
Rennie indicated that under his party’s plans, there would be more in-class support for teachers.
He said: “Teachers can’t cling to the rocks of the government’s chaotic education policy much longer. They need help now.
“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are setting out a series of proposals to put every qualified teacher to work and cut class sizes.
“My party and I will empower teachers by delivering more in-class support, guaranteeing that they have the time they need to carry out vital lesson planning and pupil assessment.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the 2022/2023 budget will see “record investment” in education.
“We will always give careful consideration to about how we can build on Scotland’s excellent school education,” they said.
“School spending per pupil was over £800 higher in Scotland last year (21/22) than in any other country in the UK and our continued investment in education means teacher numbers are at their highest since 2008, class sizes are falling and remain the lowest in the UK.
“We will provide funding to support the recruitment of 3,500 teachers and teachers over the current spending review period to 2026/27.
“The 2022-23 budget will see record investment in education and resource and capital spending is up almost £200m – one of the biggest rises in the history of the Scottish Parliament.”
The spokesperson also pointed to teacher and pupil support assistant recruitment numbers.
“Our investment of £145.5m will also ensure the sustained employment of additional teachers and classrooms assistants, the biggest increase to support teacher recruitment since 2007,” they continued.
“We provide councils with an additional £15m each year to help them respond to the individual needs of children and young people.
“In 2021, 1,036 extra pupil support assistants were recruited. This builds on the increase of 1,354 from the previous year and again exceeds our Programme for Government commitment to deliver 1,000 new support assistants.”