Education is failing future of Scotland
Last week I set off on my constituency summer tour. We’re a competitive bunch in North East Fife so my team and I made 50 stops in five days. It’s a great way to connect with communities and hear what they want me to be focusing on over the next 12 months.
But even before I hit the road I could safely say that there is one issue that will keep coming up time and time again: SNP neglect of our education system.
Today there are 150,000 fewer college places today compared to when the SNP came to power.
We have 4,000 fewer teachers, and just this past weekend my Scottish Liberal Democrat colleague Tavish Scott MSP revealed that the number of“super-size” primary school classes has risen by a third since 2012. That’s 20,000 kids in classes that are too large and we know that that has a real impact on learning; stretching teachers and reducing their contact time with children who need extra help.
It is figures like these which show that education in Scotland is going in the wrong direction. We used to have the best education system in the world. Now international league tables show that we are just average. What’s more surveys by teaching unions tell us that 86% of teachers say their workload has risen in the last year.
Despite all of this, SNP ministers have their heads in the sand and refuse to take action to relieve the pressure our teachers face. Teachers are our schools’most important asset yet despite a year of assurances from the Scottish Government that they are tackling this major problem, teachers say the problem is getting worse rather than better.
Instead of nationalist spin, teachers, parents and pupils want concrete action.
A strong education system is the key to a strong economy in the long term. It is critical that we educate future generations so that they have all the skills they need to succeed. Failing at education is failing on the future of Scotland.
Teachers, parents and pupils know that funding, resources and staffing are the biggest challenges facing our schools.
That’s why, on top of a £500 million additional investment in Scottish education, my party would commission an independent root a branch review of teachers’terms and conditions and the demands placed upon them.
Last year my party used budget negotiations to press the SNP over their dramatic cuts to college budgets as well as the need for a transformative investment in Scottish education. The Scottish Government refused and eventually we had to walk away.
Hopefully this year the SNP are ready to turn over a new leaf and give Scottish education the support it needs to succeed.