Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today announced plans to extend Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) as part of the party's Education Bounce Back plan and to tackle the attainment gap.
The party won the argument early in the last Parliament to create the PEF system, winning over the SNP which had branded Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals for its introduction as "dangerous" and "ridiculous" in 2016. This month the party also secured an extra £20 million (16%) for PEF through its deal on the Scottish budget.
Now Willie Rennie proposes to:
- Make PEF a permanent feature of Scottish education;
- Provide multi-year PEF agreements so that schools can make long-term plans and investments for children.
The party has also today revealed that 600 teachers are currently employed on temporary contracts through PEF because of the uncertainty attached to it, adding to the casualisation of the teaching workforce.
Willie Rennie commented:
"All week I have been talking about education because I believe it is the essential investment that allows everyone to achieve their potential.
"For years the SNP opposed additional funding for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds despite it being a policy that the Liberal Democrats had introduced to great success in England and Wales.
"Eventually after campaigning from my party they agreed to introduce the policy but it’s not permanent. The result is that schools can't commit to multi-year plans or give staff proper contracts has left hundreds of teachers on temporary contracts when we should be looking to get every available teacher delivering the education bounce back.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats will put the education recovery first and deliver for children across Scotland."