Derek Mackay insisted improving education was the “defining mission” of the Scottish Government as he announced more money for schools in his Budget.
The Finance Secretary promised there would be £180 million spent in 2019-20 on closing the attainment gap – with £120 million of this going straight to head teachers to spend to their priorities as part of the “transformational” Pupil Equity Fund.
But the EIS union hit out after Mr Mackay offered a public-sector pay rise of 3% for most workers – well below the 10% wage hike the union has been campaigning for.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The Finance Secretary has made great play of the Scottish Government’s professed commitment to education but has failed to demonstrate a willingness to address teacher concern over pay, or indeed the concerns of other local government workers – all of whom are still waiting for agreement on pay increases due last April.”
He added: “Our members are looking for both the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities to demonstrate that they value teachers by delivering a fair pay deal.”
Mr Mackay also pledged investment of more than £1 bilion for universities and more than £600 million for colleges.
But the University and College Union (UCU) also branded the budget “deeply disappointing”.
Strong investment in Education from @DerekMackaySNP with Â£180m to close the attainment gap - including Â£120m directly to schools in Pupil Equity Funding - expansion of early learning and childcare, over Â£1bn for Universities and increased resources for Colleges #ScotBudget— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) December 12, 2018
UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said there would be a real-terms cut to the sector’s funding, warning that this “will ultimately hit students the hardest”.
She said: “If we value our universities and the teaching, knowledge exchange and research they provide, then we needed a funding settlement to match the politicians’ warm words. Sadly, we’ve not seen that today.”
The Finance Secretary also announced almost £500 million will go towards expanding early learning and childcare.
He said the Scottish Government will provide funds to help build, refurbish or extend about 750 nurseries and family centres part of efforts to almost double the amount of free childcare youngsters can recieve by the end of this Parliament.
“Our priority is closing the attainment gap and improving education,” Mr Mackay said.
“We are determined to improve the life chances of children and young people in Scotland and change the lives of our future generations for the better.”