- All children should have access to a high-quality education.
- Teachers are the single greatest determinant of the quality of education.
- Schools should be a safe environment for everyone.
- Closing the attainment gap and driving up standards.
- Investment in frontline teaching.
- Ensuring that schools are Covid-safe environments.
- Restoring school lollipop crossings.
When Moray Labour held the education portfolio in the Moray Council, we secured the greatest investment in school buildings and estates, in real terms, in the history of the Council’s history. That legacy can be seen today in the new and renovated school buildings in every community in Moray. However, the present Council Administration’s failures to adequately staff these schools is a betrayal of that legacy.
Five years ago, Moray had huge numbers of vacancies. While this problem has been, partly, solved the Council has become reliant upon newly qualified teachers to fill gaps. This cheap labour approach is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, while it is, of course, important that new teachers are being brought into the education system, over-reliance upon inexperienced teachers inevitably impacts students’ education. Furthermore, this approach ignores the very many fully qualified teachers in Moray who struggle to find secure employment. Moray’s Labour Councillors will seek to ensure that teachers are employed on a stable and secure basis.
Insofar as the Council is concerned, we believe that more needs to be done to identify prospective teachers locally. Support and information should be made available to encourage people who live and work locally to retrain as teachers. In particular, we believe that owing to the parlous state of the North Sea oil and gas sector, shortages in mathematics and science could be met by retraining highly skilled workers from the oil industry as teachers. More flexible ways to train as teachers should be encouraged, in particular for individuals who wish to change career, including options for part-time study and on-line learning so that trainee teachers don’t have to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness to study. Moray Labour Councillors will propose the establishment of a scheme to encourage local people to train as teachers without having to leave Moray.
We are still hearing too many cases of good teachers struggling to register with the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) – for example an experienced mathematics teacher who is not allowed to teach maths because their first degree is in economics. We have also heard of teachers trying to get jobs in key STEM subjects but not getting registered on the Moray Council supply teacher list for many months, and of Moray job vacancies not being advertised at times of year when teachers are most likely to be looking for new jobs. Moray Labour Councillors will ensure the Education section of the Council is properly resourced in order to advertise jobs in a timely manner and maintain an up-to-date supply teacher list. We will support teachers and head teachers who feel that over-zealous GTCS rules are acting as a barrier to recruitment.
Moray Labour welcomes new and innovative businesses coming to Moray – but the race to attract novel industries like aerospace must not detract from traditional vocations like joinery, plumbing, childcare, hairdressing, tree surgery, etc. At present, vocational training in Moray is sorely lacking, with the SQA signposting students to the central belt and beyond for practical training courses. Moray Labour will work to improve access to vocational training for young people in Moray.
In 2019, the Moray Council abdicated all responsibility for the safety of children travelling to and from school, by ending all school crossing patrols in Moray. This measure puts hundreds of children at risk as they travel to school, and we have already seen examples of children being hit by cars at locations previously served by lollipop crossings. Labour Councillors will seek to immediately restore lollipop crossings on an interim basis to all sites not currently served by a pelican crossing, and on a permanent basis at the most dangerous crossings.
Moray Labour is proud to have supported the provision of free school meals in school holidays. At a national level, Labour’s regional Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant is tabling a legal Right to Food Bill. Moray Labour is committed to ensuring that children do not go hungry in Moray.