On the campaign trail: Lib Dems pledge £30k starting salary for teachers
WILLIE Rennie has launched the Scottish Liberal Democrat election campaign with a call for teachers to have a minimum starting salary of £30,000.
It was one of the key pledges in the party’s “bounce back” plan for education.
Rennie said hiking the salary would help recruit graduates to the profession. He also said those working in schools in disadvantaged areas should get an extra pay supplement as part of a “teacher premium” to “attract and reward the best teachers for the schools in greatest need”.
The LibDems also want all new starts to be given three-year contracts, and an “end to the casualisation of the teaching profession”.
Launching the pledges with a giant deckchair in South Queensferry, Rennie said: “Teachers must be at the heart of our education recovery. Our plan for teachers will be good for education.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have already secured an extra £80 million for education in the budget but we want to go much further.
“Our Education Bounce Back plan offers unprecedented new entitlements and resources for pupils. Staff are critical to all of the good things we want to do. They have worked flat-out to give everyone the best education possible over the last year. But they deserve better from the government.
“To help children and young people bounce back from the disruption to their education we need to invest in the teaching profession.
“Our country is stronger when every individual is able to achieve their potential, but the independent report this week showed a yawning attainment gap and progress falling short.
“My Scottish Liberal Democrats have an ambitious and comprehensive plan to help children and young people bounce back. It puts the recovery first.”
Meanwhile, the SNP’s candidate for Glasgow, Roza Salih - who would be the first refugee to sit in the Scottish Parliament if elected - drew attention to a new law which extends the right to vote in Scottish elections to everyone with leave to remain, including people with refugee status.
The candidate, who was campaigning in the city’s southside with Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Scotland is at its best as a country when a broad diversity of voices are reflected at all levels of society.
"That's why it's absolutely vital that those who can register to vote do so now, especially as new legislation which ensures people can vote no matter where they were born, including those with refugee status, comes into effect.”
She added: “We should have a parliament that looks like the country it represents and that’s why I am proud to be standing for the SNP in this election, and proud that the SNP has taken steps to ensure that we have more diversity in our candidates.”
Earlier in the day, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross urged Scots to “rediscover the Better Together spirit” of 2014 and deny the SNP a majority.
In a speech on Thursday morning, he said: "In the 2014 independence referendum we all came together as one campaign strong enough to defeat nationalism.
"We might not have agreed on everything, or even many things.
"But we embraced Better Together because we knew it could stop the SNP’s drive towards independence in its tracks.
"That we could get the focus in Scotland back onto the things that really matter.
"We need everyone - the majority in Scotland - who wants recovery over a referendum to again unite behind one campaign to deliver that result.
"And the only political party that has the strength and the determination to stand up to the SNP, that can be the vehicle that we unite behind to stop another referendum, that allows us to say no to independence again, is the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party."
He added: “Over the coming weeks up to the election, the Scottish Conservatives will set out our positive plan for Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.
“Yet none of that can happen if the SNP win a majority and take Scotland through another divisive independence referendum at the earliest opportunity.
“I do not want to go through the division of another referendum at any time.
“But it is even more important now that we do not make the current economic crisis worse by manufacturing a political crisis.
“The SNP don’t want this election to be about their record in government over the last 14 years. Or their programme for government in the next five years.
“They want this election to be about one thing and one thing only - independence.
“So in this election, it’s a straight choice between two futures. The dividing lines are clear.”
Labour leader Anas Sarwar dismissed the suggestion of an alliance.
He said: “What that is from Douglas is playground politics. Not serious and an attempt to create relevance.
“The idea that we can deliver a fairer and more equal society with the Conservatives is just not credible and not true.”