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Education Secretary is "evasive, not decisive" over future of remote learning

January 18, 2021 2:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

As teachers and pupils prepare for the start of the second week of remote learning, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called on the Education Secretary to make sure his education quangos better support teachers with remote learning.

Her call comes after a week in which:

  • Education secretary John Swinney warned it will be a "tall order" for schools to return on 1 February;
  • The SSTA described teachers as "at the end of their tether" over workloads and late guidance, in response to questioning from Ms Wishart;
  • Proposals for inspection of remote learning were described as "a Big Brother approach" by EIS leader Larry Flanagan;
  • IT problems continued to dog the provision of online learning;
  • The education committee heard that supply teachers are still struggling to find work;
  • Teachers highlighted a lack of clarity over what is expected for assessment of pupils and how they will gather evidence alongside catching up on missed learning.

Ms Wishart MSP said:

"Once again the Education Secretary is evasive rather than decisive when responding to the situation for Scottish schools.

"Teachers have carried on working hard in incredibly tough circumstances. It is not fair that they are paying the price for months of indecision on the part of the Education Secretary and his quangos. For months we have known that remote learning could be on the cards, but teachers and pupils were not given the time or opportunity to prepare.

"The pandemic has been a national emergency, and so the national education agencies should have been at the forefront of managing the crisis. Instead, they have been missing in action.

"Ultimately though these failures can be traced back to the desk of the Education Secretary. Last week, guidance for teachers was issued at 17:37 on Friday, before remote learning started at 9am on Monday. This week, guidance for students failed to materialise completely.

"The Scottish Government is failing on Scottish education."