Commenting on the publication of the Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, which includes information on pupil and teacher numbers plus pupil achievement in reading, writing, listening & talking, and numeracy – measured against Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels – EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said:
"These are substantial statistical publications with a wealth of data on Scotland's schools, teachers and pupils. There is much to be welcomed in these statistics, as well as some areas of significant concern."
"Whilst the headline number of teachers working in Scotland's schools is up, slightly, on last year, this is balanced out by a rise in the number of pupils in our schools. The end result is that pupil/teacher ratios are at a standstill and average class sizes remain unchanged."
"If we are to address the excessive workload burdens that are currently being placed upon Scotland's teachers, we need to employ more teachers in our schools in order to reduce class sizes and enhance the learning environment for pupils."
Mr Flanagan continued, "The EIS is concerned that the proportion of the 2018/19 probationer teachers with a full-time permanent post at the time of the following year's census in September 2019 was 48%."
"This is down from 55% for the previous cohort and is the first fall after 7 consecutive years of steady growth. Steps should be taken to recruit and retain more newly qualified, post-probation teachers on full-time permanent contracts."
"The EIS is concerned, also, by the continuing decline in the number of teachers employed in the Early Years sector. This has fallen from 1,200 five years ago to just 798 in this year's survey."
"While the EIS fully supports the enhanced role for other qualified early years practitioners in the pre-5 sector, we firmly believe that GTCS registered teachers must play a key role in this vital early stage of children’s education."
On the figures of pupil achievement against CfE levels, Mr Flanagan said: "The percentage of pupils meeting or exceeding expected CfE levels has increased overall, which is a positive development and a credit to Scotland’s pupils and teachers."
"There is, however, still a significant gap in achievement between pupils from the least and most deprived areas. Whilst schools do all they can to help pupils overcome disadvantage linked to poverty, this is a societal issue that cannot be solved by schools in isolation."