The outgoing President of the EIS has used her final speech in post to make a passionate plea for more support for pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
Carole Thorpe, a primary teacher from Aberdeen, has been EIS President during one of the more unusual and challenging years in the institute’s history. Addressing the EIS Annual General Meeting, held virtually, Ms Thorpe praised pupils and teachers for their hard work over a very difficult year, and called for enhanced investment in education to support education recovery for young people.
Ms Thorpe told the meeting, “Over this last year I have used the word unprecedented so many times that I wanted to try to find another word to use today but unprecedented is undoubtedly what this year has been. The COVID 19 Pandemic has had a profound impact on all spheres of life and this has been particularly acutely felt in every sector of education. The effects of the pandemic will continue to reverberate well into the future.”
Ms Thorpe continued, “I want to praise all of the hard work and professionalism of colleagues in schools, colleges and universities across Scotland who have worked extremely hard this last year in their efforts to maintain the education of our young people, in finding practical solutions to the challenges faced and doing this despite fears for their own and their families’ health.”
Calling for enhanced support for schools, Ms Thorpe said, “Dealing with the issues left in the wake of the pandemic will require partnership going forward. The Government must work with teachers and lecturers because we are the ones best placed to understand our pupils and what their needs are, both educational needs and their health and wellbeing needs, including mental health. It is vital that sufficient funding is provided to give us the resources to do this.”
Ms Thorpe added, “There has been, and will continue to be, a huge increase in the need for mental-health support due to the pandemic. During this last year so many of our young people have missed out on social contact, have experienced grief and loss, have lived with stressed parents, have been subjected to domestic abuse, hunger, and so many other issues. For so many of our young people, school is the stable, dependable part of their existence and they have struggled without it. Cracks in our society will be irreparable if we do not act now. Money must be made available to support education - pupils affected by the pandemic are the future of our country and we cannot afford to fail them.”
Following the President’s speech, the AGM moves onto other business including the debate of 44 Motions on a wide range of issues. Debates will continue on Friday and Saturday. Speeches are also due to be made tomorrow (Friday) by EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan and by Cabinet Secretary for Education Shirley-Anne Somerville. The AGM is being streamed live via the EIS Facebook page.
A copy of the full text of Ms Thorpe’s speech is attached, for information. Please check against delivery.
Full info on the AGM programme, and list of Motions to be debated, is available on the AGM 2021 page on the EIS website.