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International report highlights both strengths of and challenges for Scottish Education

11th September 2012

A major international education Report has highlighted the many strengths of Scottish Education, and also a number of challenges that must be met to deliver an improved educational experience for learners. 

The Report Education at a Glance, produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), compares key aspects of education in OECD countries and can be accessed via a secure OECD website.

Commenting on some of the findings in the OECD Report, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The OECD report Education at a Glance paints a largely positive picture of Scottish education, particularly in high levels of participation in early years education and tertiary education where Scotland is well above the OECD average."

He continued, "However, the report does also identify some areas of concern for Scottish education.

"The impact of poverty on educational opportunities continues to be a major issue to be addressed, and the report emphasises the very real difficulties often faced by pupils living in areas of deprivation - which includes a very high percentage of pupils from migrant families - with regard to housing, economic opportunity and education."

Mr Flanagan added, "The report also highlights that investment in early years education per pupil is lower than the OECD average.

"The EIS is clear that one of the key ways to address the inequality of poverty is by providing a sound educational experience for 3 and 4 year olds through nursery education provided by fully qualified nursery teachers rather than Councils seeking savings through cheaper alternatives."

"Access to a nursery teacher should be a meaningful commitment from the Scottish Government.”

Mr Flanagan went on to say, "The report also highlights that class sizes at primary level are higher than the average and significantly higher than in the private sector. Smaller class sizes help overcome barriers for young people and the EIS campaign for progress in this area remains essential.”

On the issue of the hours worked by teachers, Mr Flanagan said, "The OECD figures indicate that Scottish teachers have a heavier workload in terms of hours worked, in comparison to teachers south of the border and in many other OECD countries.

"This shows the dedication of Scotland's teachers - who work many more hours than they are contracted to - and also highlights the workload pressure that teachers have to deal with in the course of their jobs.

"In an environment of budget cuts, falling teacher numbers and rising class sizes, local authorities and the Scottish government must look very closely at today's report and consider how they can better support Scotland's teachers and Scotland's education system.

"Teachers work very hard, putting in long hours for the benefit of their pupils. It is right that teachers should be properly supported, have appropriate working conditions and a fair level of remuneration for their invaluable work."

Mr Flanagan went on to say, "Interestingly the report also confirms that money invested in education provides a very good return, with the higher taxes paid by graduates more than offsetting the cost of tertiary education to the public purse.

"However, the current budget cutting agenda across Scottish education, particularly in the Further Education Sector, are now limiting educational opportunities for many young people at a time when they are greatly needed.

"It is clear from the report, for example, that the young people who are hurt most by cuts in FE, are those from the poorest backgrounds. The Scottish Government should take cognisance of this in considering the funding for Further Education."

  • The OECD Report can be downloaded from here or copy the link below.