No summer break for school concerns
Next week sees MSPs return to parliament following the summer recess.
For me the summer recess is always a very busy period and this summer was no different, with roving surgeries, street stalls, and lots of doors knocked right across Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Blantyre.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting out and about meeting with lots of local people, the conversations I have had with people in their living rooms and on the doorsteps I will take with me to the floor of the Scottish Parliament.
A consistent concern from local parents is education.
As a parent myself I only want the best for my children and want to ensure they have the best opportunities and start in life – this means making sure our children have the correct skills to equip themselves for the future.
The new parliamentary session brings with it the exciting new election of Kezia Dugdale as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, who will hold the government to account and of course support it when it is right to do so.
Kezia has already made education a key priority for Scottish Labour and closing the achievement gap between the richest and poorest kids in our schools must be at the very top of the agenda.
It is so important for all of our young people - not just those from wealthy backgrounds - to have the skills to compete in the modern world.
Scotland’s greatest natural resource is our young people, but for eight years the SNP Government has not invested in them as they deserve.
Over 4,000 teachers have been cut, class sizes have risen, and school budgets have been cut, with Scotland the only part of the UK where that has happened.
It is investing in education which will allow Scotland to tackle low pay, inequality and poverty across our local communities, by giving our young people the skills they will need for the jobs of tomorrow.
It is disgraceful that new figures released show that pupils from the richest backgrounds in Scotland are more than three times more likely to successfully apply for a place at university than the poorest.
Scotland is trailing behind the rest of the UK in closing the gap in education between rich and poor.
The attainment gap in our schools should be a worry to every single Scot.
Pupils from richer backgrounds still perform much better than those from deprived areas and three quarters of S2 pupils from the poorest backgrounds don’t have the numeracy skills they need.
That’s morally wrong and it’s holding our country back.
The reality is that children starting their first year of high school have spent every year of their education under an SNP Government.
The First Minister says she wants young people to have the opportunity she had in the eighties - what does that say about her own Government’s record?
Labour would reintroduce the 50p rate of tax on the wealthiest few earning more than £150,000 a year, so that we can invest more money in our schools.
That means tackling the gap between the richest and poorest pupils, by making sure that every young person has the basic reading, writing and counting skills that are essential for the world of work.
Streetwise James Kelly MSP on a roving surgery