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And they are using the council elections in May to press their case, with a detailed manifesto setting out specific proposals.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) – Scotland’s biggest teachers’ union – wants to see a minimum increase of one full-time-equivalent teacher per school, with more in larger schools; urgent action to recruit more pupil support assistants (PSAs); and extra admin and other support staff for schools.
Edinburgh EIS secretary Alison Murphy said: “Our schools are massively under-resourced and overstretched.
"We need more teachers who have got permanent contracts and security of tenure so they aren't constantly moving from school to school – and that’s not just for the sake of the teachers, that's for the sake of the schools and the pupils.
“Even more than teachers, we need PSAs – a huge number of Edinburgh PSAs are on temporary contracts so they end up leaving. It’s a very rewarding job but it's tough. Many are on temporary contracts, not knowing until June whether it’s going to be renewed, and they're on pretty poor pay.
“And we have a huge shortage of admin and support staff, so there are headteachers who spend all day running around doing playground duty, covering classes and doing admin work.”
The union manifesto also calls for dedicated technical support in primary schools. Ms Murphy said: “IT is disaster in Edinburgh. Edinburgh teachers cite IT as a driver of workload and stress far more than in other parts of the country.”
She said IT provision was not yet fit for the 21st century. “Edinburgh is doing work on it, but it's a bit like the trams – it might be great when it's done, but a nightmare at the moment. If you’re in a school with a pile of new ipads but the wifi system hasn’t been upgraded yet what you’ve got is a pile of table mats.
"Some primary schools are lucky enough to have someone who is very IT savvy and that person will be doing IT support instead of their day job; and if you’re in a school without someone who is IT savvy there's no-one to do it.”
She said it meant teachers preparing two plans for one lesson. “They have the lesson they want to deliver using the interactive whiteboard or whatever technology they have, but also a back-up lesson for if that technology falls over.”
The EIS is also calling for “proper resourcing” to support mental health. Ms Murphy said: “Post-pandemic there are so many kids who have had trauma. There’s not the mental health support, so teachers are the frontline when it comes to kids who are distressed. Either they're lashing out because they're distressed or, almost more worryingly, they’re turning in on themselves, yet they can’t get referrals so the teachers are trying to pick up the pieces.”
And on school budgets she said the money heads can control is less per pupil in Edinburgh than most other places. “Schools need more funding, but they also need to know when they get it it's not going to be clawed back because that happens a lot in Edinburgh.”