EIS Welcomes new Education Secretary to Post

Created on: 19 May 2021 | Last modified: 19 May 2021

The EIS has welcomed Shirley-Anne Somerville to her new post as Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills.

The EIS also thanked the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, who has departed the Education remit after five years to assume responsibility for national Covid recovery.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The EIS welcomes Shirley-Anne Somerville to the post of Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and looks forward to constructive dialogue with Ms Somerville in the months and years to come."

"The EIS already has some experience of working with Ms Somerville from her time as Minister for Further and Higher education, and this will provide a sound base on which to build a positive working relationship. The Cabinet Secretary can expect an early invitation to speak at the EIS Annual General Meeting next month, and we hope that she will be able to take up this opportunity to engage directly with Scotland’s teaching professionals."

Mr Flanagan added, "The first issue the Cabinet Secretary will need to address is an end to the scandal of temporary contracts throughout the education system. If we are to have an education-led recovery we need more teachers on permanent contracts to cut class sizes, provide more support to pupils with additional support needs and address the impact of poverty on children’s learning."

On the departure of John Swinney, Mr Flanagan said, "The EIS maintained a constructive working relationship with Mr Swinney over the past five years."

"While we have not agreed on every issue, we welcomed the fact that he was always willing to engage with the EIS and was supportive of genuine social dialogue. His time in office saw agreement on significant pay uplifts for many teachers and lecturers, together with a range of joint initiatives providing additional support in tackling the impact of poverty in education."

"His new role, leading on national Covid recovery, is a massive task with major implications for education and, indeed, for the entire country. We wish him well in this new challenge."

The EIS Annual General Meeting, the sovereign decision-making body of the EIS, will be held from June 10th – June 12th. As a consequence of the current Covid situation, the meeting will be held online with coverage available via the EIS website and social media channels.