Scottish education has much to be proud of, but faces many challenges

Created on: 06 Jun 2013 | Last modified: 09 Feb 2021

The outgoing President of the EIS, Susan Quinn, has used her speech to the EIS Annual General Meeting to highlight the many achievements of Scottish education, while warning of the many threats it continues to face.  
Today (Thursday), Miss Quinn delivered her final address as EIS President to the AGM of Scotland’s largest teaching union.  
Teachers and lecturers from across Scotland have gathered for the EIS AGM, which runs from Thursday to Saturday at Perth Concert Hall.
Addressing delegates during today’s opening session of the AGM, Miss Quinn said,
"I am immensely proud of Scottish education.  Indeed, I am often struck by the disparity between the media headlines on education and reality on the ground."
"Headlines highlight the negatives in education - schools failing, falling standards, dumbing down and other allegations by so called experts." 
"Whilst I accept that education as a public service should be open to scrutiny there surely should be balance in reporting to promote trust."  
"I also understand the argument that negativity and sensational stories sell papers and get people watching but we must celebrate success.”
Looking ahead to the scheduled speech by a sitting politician on Saturday – a first for an EIS AGM – Miss Quinn said, 
"I am hopeful that the Cabinet Secretary will celebrate the positives of Scottish education with us when he joins us on Saturday." 
"But what I also hope he will share is how we can address the crucial issues for all teachers and lecturers in Scotland." 
"How we can avoid teachers working till 68, meaning they are worn out and there are fewer jobs for those entering the profession."  
"How we can balance the desire to have better qualified teachers with the reality of lower salary levels." 
"How we can remove the over bureaucratic systems we see developing around planning and assessment which add only to workload." 
"How we can overcome a position where it is accepted teachers will use their own money to provide pencils, paper and books for pupils.”
"We have heard reassuring messages from Mike Russell and those at Education Scotland in recent weeks around bureaucracy." 
"But what teachers want to see is this being put into practice and making a real difference to their workload." 
"What we really need is practical guidance to schools to move away from the hoops of red tape we currently have to a better way." 
"For the evidence from our members is that if we don't make progress in these areas then they are ready to take action. That 91% of members recently indicated they are ready to take action on pension reforms shows the level of feeling in establishments." 
"Responses to surveys on the implementation of the curriculum in all sectors show major concerns across the board."  
"The recent launch of our workload campaign shows how committed we are as an organisation to GIRFOM - get it right for our members." 
"This will be a campaign shaped largely by the debate of this conference - membership of the union has never been more important.”
The AGM is the sovereign body of the EIS, and is key to the democratic structure and decision-making processes of the organisation. The AGM meets in June every year.  The AGM debates Motions, sets EIS priorities and policies, and approves the EIS Council decisions from the previous year.
This year, the AGM will debate 52 Motions on a wide range of issues, including 19 Motions on Education matters, 9 Motions on Employment Relations matters, 6 Motions on Equality matters, 9 Motions on Salaries matters, and 9 Motions on Organisation matters.  
Around 350 teacher and lecturer delegates elected by local associations and the self-governing associations, (EIS-ULA and EIS-FELA) attend the AGM.  The 125 elected members of the national EIS Council are automatically delegates at the AGM. 
For further information, contact Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244 or
- Members of the media are welcome to attend the EIS AGM to observe and report on the debate.  Contact the Communications department on the number above to request accreditation, or report to the EIS Office at Perth Concert Hall during the AGM itself.
- Further information on the EIS AGM, including frequent updates during the course of the AGM, is available from the EIS website