Education is our greatest opportunity

Erin McAuley, 19, a Labour activist and student teacher at the University of Stirling, says education was her golden ticket and is our best chance to improve lives across Scotland.

 

The power of education has changed my life. It has been my golden ticket to where I am today and my passport to discover the world around me and my capabilities. Education continues to take me places and help me accomplish things that were once unimaginable.

Education gave me a purpose and a focus. It gave me a route up and out during a very uncertain and difficult time in my personal life. I was lucky enough to have supportive teachers who believed in me, supported me and empowered me to use my education as a source of opportunity to strive for better, not fall through the cracks as many predicted.

I believe that the biggest, best and most critical investment any country can make is in education. The attainment gap starts well beyond the school gates but education has the ability to be a key tool in reducing poverty, erase oppression and give people a chance in life.

I strongly feel it’s the most powerful weapon anyone can use. It is the foundation for peace and prosperity and it is the power of education that enables each of us to be agents of change.

The immeasurable and valuable impact my own teachers and education has played in my life has motivated me to train to become a teacher. Teaching is the only profession that creates every other profession. It opens hearts and minds and shapes the future.

I want to be a young person’s champion, role model and inspiration just like my teachers were for me. Every child and young person deserves a champion in their life, someone who won’t give up on them, or judge or stigmatise them because of their circumstances or postcode.

We all deserve someone who will help us discover our capabilities and succeed. I know teaching has the ability to do that. I don’t say this because of quotes I’ve seen or education books I’ve read, but because I have experienced for myself how influential a teacher can be in a person’s life.

I was never top of my class, I never achieved straight A grades or 100% in any class test but I never gave up.  Getting to where I am has not been an easy ride. Even right now at university I feel the burden of being a working class student every single day and experience the barriers in education that have yet to be eradicated.

No government can credibly claim to close an attainment gap whilst slashing council budgets. Underfunding and cutting into education is not just a cut to resources in the classroom – it’s a cut to our country’s future.

Education is the biggest tool we can ever use to make Scotland a stronger, fairer and more prosperous country.

This is why it makes me sad and angry at the state of education in Scotland.  It makes me frustrated that in a time when our education standards are so low and poverty in our country is so high the SNP government’s only focus is another independence referendum.  Imagine this energy, passion and money was used to create a world class education system that ensures every child has the opportunity to succeed and be who they want to be? Maybe then we could truly close the attainment gap.

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31 thoughts on “Education is our greatest opportunity

  1. What a well written and passionate blog, so true as well! Education is the best investment we can make as a society and the cuts to this sector is downright disgraceful! Well said, solidarity with Eireann!

    1. So I take it you support Scotland becoming independent so that it can escape the austerity imposed on Scotland by the UK government?

      1. Lewee,
        that argument has been debunked, but please feel free to show how we’d be wealthier with independence.

        Scott

        1. Its a simple mathematical reality. Full fiscal autonomy is greater than less than full fiscal autonomy.

  2. Great stuff. Erin reminds us that Labour exists to ensure we all have the chance to reach our full potential… and Education is a key part of that.

    The sad thing is that, after 10 years of the SNP, things are now going backwards in Scotland where education is concerned.

    The path i took in the 1980s out of poverty is now harder for Erin’s generation. That should shame us all.

      1. Mike,
        I don’t think Erin is proposing that fees are imposed.

        Did you back the SNP cutting the grant given to the poorest Scottish students?

        Scott

  3. Lucky she didn’t have to pay 9K a term though eh? Thanks to the SNP Government being more concerned about her education than she herself appears to be.

      1. Its all about Labour ideology. The ideology of fee imposition on those who cant afford to pay them.
        Coupled with tax increases prescription charges means testing welfare cuts and wage freezes. And all to help pay for Trident renewal warmongering and an unbalanced disunion of unequals.

        Too corrupt to acknowledge the truth. Too trapped in the lies to change.

        But at least your Blue Tory friends are benefitting from Labours demise so you have that going for you.

        1. Mike,
          Same old rubbish from you. For example, Labour is not proposing fees in Scotland.

          Scott

          1. Labour are a UK party Scott and their UK manifesto includes tuition fees.
            Same old lying crap from you Scott.

  4. You should look at the O.E.C.D. report on Scottish Education – it’s much more positive than you appear to be.
    On a wider issue, as of this morning you’re now looking a tory majority of 100+ and oblivion for labour. It’s time to choose; Brexit Britain or independence.

    1. Actually, heids, that’s not how John Curtice sees it given that, in his view most Labour seats are very safe. And can the SNP repeat their performance since their vote is softening and at least two remain suspended from the Party? Let’s see what happens eh

      1. Ian Murray’s seat doesn’t look safe to me at all.

        Where is the evidence of a softening of SNP support? They have done nothing but increase support in every subsequent election since 2005.

        In fact the most risky seats in Scotland are the 3 that the SNP don’t control. And they are all at risk from the SNP.

      2. Labour had better pray the SNP repeat or better their performance Jim Bob because it means more opposition to Labour in Westminster if they don’t.
        Seems to me the most sensible course for Labour in Scotland to take is to vote SNP to keep the Tories out and hope whats left of their support in England and Wales is as solid as Curtis says they might be.

        Labour cant afford to have the SNP lose seats to the Tories Jim Bob.

        Thought that was obvious.

        1. Voting for the SNP is voting for a party that opposes the Tories in Westminster but implements Tory cuts in Scotland.

  5. Thanks to Erin for sharing your story and reminding us the difference that great teachers and a good education can make to people’s lives. What an inspiration!
    It is indeed a shame that Scotland’s standards are sliding (according to PISA figures) and teacher-shortages are going virtually ignored by our current government.

    1. PISA figures are not the be-all and end-all of measurement of the educational status of countries. Indeed there are serious reservations about PISA (see the inexplicable fall of Finland from the top of the tables) and academics involved in education all round the world have expressed very strong concerns about the short term-ism that PISA inflicts on educational establishments (see the letter in the Guardian if I can provide a link Duncan- edit out if not acceptable to the policies of this blog, ta!) https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/06/oecd-pisa-tests-damaging-education-academics

      1. The kids who actually sat the PISA tests had little or no investment in them.

  6. If it were only Pisa that was suggesting it there might be a point to be made.

  7. I have a son finishing S6 just now, starting study leave for his final exams next Friday. I also have 2 grandchildren in the education system, one in P1 and 1 in P7.

    From where I’m standing they are being superbly educated by committed and highly capable teachers, much like our correspondent above. I’d be very interested to know in what way their, or her, schooling is/was deficient.

    Incidentally my son was one of the students who actually sat the PISA tests. He thought the whole exercise was a waste of his time that would have been better spent working on his Nat 5s that were coming up a few weeks after.

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