Fail­ing to at­tain ed­u­ca­tion stars

Strathearn Herald - - STRATHEARN VIEW -

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

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