No sum­mer break for school con­cerns

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane - James Kelly Holy­rood Head­lines

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

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