Ed­u­ca­tion is fail­ing fu­ture of Scot­land

Perthshire Advertiser - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

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.

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