South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has praised teachers across the region ahead of the return to schools this week, but warned that workload pressures highlighted in a new survey by teaching Union the EIS are set to get worse.

Colin Smyth said, “As schools return after the festive break, we owe our teachers a huge debt of gratitude. They have gone way beyond the call of duty to teach our children in incredibly difficult circumstances but that is taking its toll as the EIS survey exposes. The Government say they are keeping our schools open, but they are doing it on the on the backs of overworked and under resourced teachers. There isn’t a teacher in the region who won’t recognise the survey findings and the big fear is the workload pressures it highlights are going to get worse. We’re told by the Government not to mix with more than three households but this week our teachers will be sent back to mix with 30 different households every hour with no meaningful investment by the Government in areas such as ventilation in the classroom. Along with the rules on self-isolation that will mean we will have significant absences, so fewer and fewer teachers will have to do more and more.

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves that these workload pressures just started with the pandemic. Coronavirus has just exasperated a problem that has been growing for years. Covid is first and foremost a health crisis but it has also become an education one. With record cuts being made to council budgets by the Scottish Government, local authorities simply won’t have the funding needed to make sure we have enough teachers, or give those we do have the support they need and that is inevitably going to impact on the growing attainment gap we have in our classrooms.”

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