Education systems can help mitigate the impact of poverty, but only if they are properly designed and resourced, the STUC Congress was told today.
Delegates voted to back a call from the EIS and UNISON for the pupil equity funding to be part of a permanent national funding formula.
Seconding the motion, UNISON’s Carol Ball told Congress that UNISON recognises the important role Education plays in increasing the life chances of children and young people and called for it to be fully funded.
She reminded delegates of the impact for those with additional support needs when resources are not available.
“We know that the attainment gap is widening and this is particularly so for children living in poverty.
“However while Education has a large part to play in narrowing this gap, this needs also to be addressed by tackling income, inadequate housing and by providing a range of support services delivered by properly funded public services.”
Carol supported Education services “run locally, where decisions taken are democratically accountable local decisions, like Glasgow City Council increasing free school meals to Primary 4 pupils, increasing the number of free early learning and child care hours from the Government funded 600 hours to 900 hours for lower income families,” which can contribute to narrowing the attainment gap.
She welcomed the additional Pupil Equity Funding and called for this to be made permanent as part of the national funding formula for Local Government, and pointed to some innovative developments in schools to try to address the attainment gap.
However Carol warned that Local Government cuts have had a huge impact on jobs and services.
She pointed to the UNISON survey, “Hard Lessons” in January 2017 which showed the huge impact of the loss of nearly 2000 support staff since 2010, higher workloads and more stress for those left behind as they try to meet pupil needs.
“This can’t continue,” slammed Carol. “These cuts must end and Education must be properly funded so that we get it right for every child.”
The motion also called for recruitment more staff – teachers and support staff so that all education and education support activities are carried out effectively and consistently across the country; management of staff workload at a sustainable level and retain staff by ensuring they receive salaries commensurate to similarly qualified staff in other sectors and countries.
It also called for funding for additional widening access places, and to encourage better articulation routes between further and higher education.