Education in Scotland is undervalued, according to a recent study undertaken for Education International, which also stresses that public authorities and education policy makers must work with teachers and their unions on professional and national identity.
Over half of Scotland’s teachers believe education is undervalued in their jurisdiction, according to the study “Understanding teacher identity in the 21st century” undertaken for Education International (EI) by the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE). The centre is internationally acknowledged as a centre of expertise in school and college improvement and evidence-informed leadership and practice in education.
Almost 80 per cent of over 1,300 teachers surveyed did not agree that “teachers in Scotland are respected”. Almost four in five teachers did not feel that a work-life balance was achievable. Teachers feel disrespected and overworked, according to the study, and only 15 per cent felt they were given the chance to influence national education policy.
Teachers’ representatives have accused the Scottish government of failing to back up its rhetoric about empowering the profession.
Highlighting Scotland’s teacher-recruitment crisis, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) General Secretary Larry Flanagan said that teachers “still feel policy is done to them”. This situation “feeds into a very low state of morale among Scottish teachers at the moment, exacerbated by frustrations around pay and work-life balance”.
There is also a growing sense among teachers that what they are doing is not valued in broader society, he added.
Deploring the focus on head teachers by Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney in his planned reform programme, which includes devolving more power to schools, Flanagan stressed that too much of teachers’ time was being spent in front of classes, leaving little opportunity for preparation or professional development.
“Head teachers are only as good as their team,” Flanagan insisted, saying that Swinney needs to start talking more collectively about teachers and empowering the profession, rather than focusing on leadership.
EI: Genuine partnership needed
“This report clearly highlights the efficacy of evidence-based approaches and the impact of inadequate education policy on teachers,” said EI Senior Consultant John Bangs. “Even though there is, to some extent, a social partnership with the profession in Scotland, improving teacher identity means working in genuine partnership and not having policy proposals being applied in a top-down approach without consulting with teachers and their unions.”
The report is available here