Ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal

Rutherglen Reformer - - They Work For You -

Ed­u­ca­tion is such an im­por­tant as­pect of a child’s devel­op­ment and it is only right that politi­cians of all per­sua­sions fo­cus on en­sur­ing that we de­liver a first class ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that leaves no child be­hind, re­gard­less of their so­cial back­ground.

A lot has changed since I was in pri­mary school, and rightly so. In the past four decades tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances have ac­cel­er­ated at an amaz­ing pace and the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties I had to be pre­pared for leav­ing school in the mid 1980s will be some­what dif­fer­ent in 2029 for this year’s pri­mary one classes.

I be­lieve that there are three key ar­eas essential to pro­vid­ing a good ed­u­ca­tion: cur­ricu­lum de­sign, en­vi­ron­ment and equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity. Three ar­eas that have been cen­tral to the SNP Govern­ment ed­u­ca­tion strat­egy since 2007.

The Cur­ricu­lum for Ex­cel­lence, in­tro­duced in 2012, was the cul­mi­na­tion of nearly a decade of work initiated by the pre­vi­ous Labour/Lib Dem ex­ec­u­tive in 2003 and brought to fruition by the cur­rent SNP Govern­ment. The aim, as stated by the orig­i­nal re­view group, was “to en­able all chil­dren to de­velop their ca­pac­i­ties as suc­cess­ful learn­ers, con­fi­dent in­di­vid­u­als, re­spon­si­ble ci­ti­zens and ef­fec­tive con­trib­u­tors to so­ci­ety.”

It was seen a phased process of re­form which would take ac­count of ad­vances in ed­u­ca­tion and de­liver a cur­ricu­lum which both chal­lenged and sup­ported a child’s ed­u­ca­tional jour­ney from three to 18 years of age.

Re­forms of this scale will al­ways bring chal­lenges and it was good to hear this week that the ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, John Swin­ney, has an­nounced new guid­ance on the cur­ricu­lum de­signed to re­duce the bur­den of bu­reau­cracy on teach­ers, a move which has been wel­comed by the largest teach­ing union, the EIS.

The teach­ing en­vi­ron­ment is im­por­tant. No child should have to learn in a school that is in a poor or bad con­di­tion. Mod­ern, ac­ces­si­ble build­ings help cre­ate the right en­vi­ron­ment for chil­dren to learn and teach­ers to work in.

The SNP manifesto, launched ahead of the re­cent Scot­tish elec­tions, reaf­firmed the party’s com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing chil­dren and teach­ers with the best pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment in which to learn and the record the SNP holds on school build­ings shows the Scot­tish Govern­ment can be trusted to de­liver on this im­por­tant as­pect too.

The to­tal num­ber of schools re­built or re­fur­bished un­der the SNP be­tween 2008 and 2015 stands at 607 – al­most a quar­ter of the school es­tate and nearly dou­ble the to­tal num­ber of re­builds and re­fur­bish­ments un­der­taken be­tween 1999 and 2007.

It is worth not­ing that this im­pres­sive progress was achieved with­out re­sort­ing to the pri­vate fi­nance ini­tia­tives used by Labour and the Lib Dems, which will see coun­cils crip­pled with bil­lions of pounds of his­toric PFI pay­ments of up to eight times the ac­tual value of some projects. How many more schools could have been up­graded were it not for the un­capped, ex­or­bi­tant prof­its go­ing to pri­vate com­pa­nies for school projects?

Equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity should mean that your so­cial back­ground or cir­cum­stances should not be a bar­rier to your abil­ity to learn, achieve or at­tain good ed­u­ca­tional out­comes. Through the At­tain­ment Scot­land Fund, the govern­ment in­tends to in­vest £750mil­lion over the course of this par­lia­ment to help teach­ers at schools in ar­eas of de­pri­va­tion across the coun­try de­velop innovative ap­proaches to im­prov­ing lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy, health and well­be­ing.

The Scot­tish At­tain­ment Chal­lenge Pri­mary Schools Pro­gramme is part of this ini­tia­tive and it was great to see that sev­eral lo­cal schools will ben­e­fit from an ad­di­tional £2.8mil­lion an­nounced by the first min­is­ter re­cently.

Th­ese in­clude St Mark’s Pri­mary, Burgh Pri­mary, Cathkin Pri­mary and Loch Pri­mary Schools in Ruther­glen and James Ai­ton Pri­mary in Cam­bus­lang.

The At­tain­ment Fund sits within a wider pro­gramme of school re­form which in­cludes ac­tion to em­power lo­cal lead­er­ship within schools, di­rect­ing more re­sources to head teach­ers, fo­cussing on re­duc­ing the un­nec­es­sary work­load of teach­ers and the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of Cur­ricu­lum for Ex­cel­lence. De­liv­er­ing th­ese com­mit­ments will help us re­alise our am­bi­tion to en­sure equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery child and young per­son to be the best that they can be.

In the next few months I am look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing all of our lo­cal pri­mary schools and see­ing, first hand, the ex­cel­lent work that is be­ing done.

A lot has changed since I was in pri­mary school, and rightly so

Guid­ance John Swin­ney an­nounced new guid­ance for teach­ers ear­lier this week

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