Failing to attain education stars
As another Scottish summer draws to a close, though some may ask when it actually started, the new nursery, school, college and university terms begin.
From the first steps in the playroom to those reaching higher education, it is a time of optimism and opportunity, notwithstanding a few tears from some five-year-olds on the first day.
Education expands horizons and enriches our lives.
It should be the great social leveller that supports and nurtures ability, that realises opportunities, that helps young people find their path in life and makes sure they have the right skills and knowledge to be able to succeed.
Education can help tackle poverty and build a more equal society.
Our teaching staff across the sector work hard and are committed to their students but they are working in increasingly difficult circumstances.
There is consensus in the Scottish Parliament over the value of education, but we have seen the percentage of funding to education and skills fall under this SNP Government.
The attainment gap in schools still persists, our position on international league table is slipping and we have seen a significant drop in students studying science and languages at secondary school.
The continual trimming of education spending has led to stagnation in Scottish education which holds back students and will ultimately impact negatively on our economy.
The SNP are now a minority government.
To the surprise of some, John Swinney, the man brought in to rescue the situation, appears to be floundering as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.
Proposing unpopular reforms to school management, scrapping performance measurements and agreeing to a poor settlement for local authorities, have all led to education continuing to be a weak point for the Scottish Government.
We can point to many positives in Scottish education but that does not take away the weaknesses - budget cuts, difficulties in teacher recruitment, the attainment gap continuing, and a lack of progress in vital subjects and international league tables.
This summer, Scottish Labour brought forward a plan to make Scottish education the best in the world.
It is a detailed report which includes using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts and invest in education, measures to re-establish the teaching profession as world leading and attract new teachers to it, and urgently commission a numeracy and literacy programme as recommended by international experts.
Scottish Labour will be arguing for these measures and other proposals when the Scottish Parliament returns.
It is a huge disappointment to me that the Parliament I campaigned for and am honoured to be elected to, is failing to realise the full potential of Scottish education and young people, and that progress has stalled.
The SNP Government must now recognise the need to fully commitment to education, to make it the priority they claim it to be and work with parties to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
Criticism Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP