#stuc2017 Congress pledged to continue campaigning for proper funding for all areas of education, from early years to adult education to tackle the attainment gap.
It recognised the key role of further education in widening access to higher education and will lobby the Scottish Government on college cuts and decreasing student places.
Supporting the composited motion from EIS, UCU and Prospect, Pat Rowland of UNISON reminded delegates that children from less well off homes in Scotland do less well at school than their better off classmates and they leave education earlier.
“This impacts on their ability to get well paid jobs to start with and affects their earnings for their whole working lives,” said Pat.
To change this will require policies which will tackle poverty itself and investment across the whole education system to close this atrocious attainment gap, said Pat.
“This means investment in the whole team,” she added. “It’s not just teachers and lecturers who deliver education but a whole range of staff. And its not just schools and universities we need to invest in. It’s early education and colleges too.”
She warned that severe cuts in college budgets have created problems which need to be addressed, and that budget cuts and the regionalisation process have also led to a 9% reduction in staff numbers.
“Colleges have been a very important route to university but now there are half as many women in colleges than in 2007: just as UNISON warned,” said Pat.
“We have seen a 41% drop in overall student numbers, routes to a better life completely shut off, young people leaving school with no college or university place, fewer opportunities for adults who have been made redundant trying to retrain or those wishing to gain new skills, to get a better job.
“And less chance for those who for some reason were unable to take advantage of education first time round or who felt education was not for them.”
Pat also condemned the impact of the job cuts on the remaining staff.
“Those still in work are under huge pressure to provide quality services without the resources needed, working unpaid overtime, skipping breaks under pressure trying to deliver.
“Closing the attainment gap is something we fully support,” said Pat. “But we need than more than warm words – We need action!”