Global sur­vey shows re­sults in key sub­jects have hit record low – mak­ing a mock­ery of Stur­geon’s plea to be judged on ed­u­ca­tion

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Graham Grant Home Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

SCOT­LAND has plunged down global ed­u­ca­tion rankings in a damn­ing in­dict­ment of more than a decade of SNP fail­ure.

Pupils lag be­hind those in Latvia, Slove­nia and Es­to­nia in maths and are out­per­formed by peers in Eng­land.

The sur­vey of 15-year-olds found per­for­mance in maths and sci­ence has hit record lows.

Ni­cola Stur­geon has staked her per­sonal rep­u­ta­tion on driv­ing up class­room stan­dards – and pledged in 2015 to put her ‘neck on the line on the ed­u­ca­tion of our young peo­ple’.

But Scot­tish Tory ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Liz Smith said the sta­tis­tics from the Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment (PISA) ex­posed the ‘full ex­tent of the SNP’s shame­ful 12 years run­ning down Scot­land’s schools – and it shows Ni­cola Stur­geon is fail­ing chil­dren around the coun­try’.

She added that the First Min­is­ter’s ‘ob­ses­sion with a sec­ond di­vi­sive ref­er­en­dum has come at a high cost to our schools’.

The PISA fig­ures, which record the per­for­mance of 600,000

15-year-olds from around the world, were re­leased yes­ter­day by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-oper­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD).

Us­ing a com­plex scor­ing system, points are given to re­flect pupils’ per­for­mance and al­low com­par­isons to be made.

Last year, Scot­land achieved a mean score of 504 for read­ing. This is up from 493 in 2015, but that score was lower than the 499 awarded in 2006 – the year be­fore the SNP came to power. In 2000 it was as high as 526. Scot­land is now ranked 15th for read­ing, lower than Es­to­nia, in sixth place, and Eng­land, which ranked 14th.

In 2000, Scot­land was sixth for read­ing, fall­ing to 14th in 2006.

For maths, Scot­land scored 489, down from 491 in 2015, and a sharp fall from the fig­ure in 2000 of 533. Scot­land was ranked 31st in 2018 – Eng­land was 22nd – down from 17th in 2006, and fifth in 2000.

On sci­ence, Scot­land’s score was 490, down from 497 in 2015, and 522 in 2000, mean­ing the coun­try is 29th, a sharp fall from 14th in 2006 and ninth in 2000.

Eng­land came 15th for sci­ence in the league ta­ble, which in­cludes data for 79 ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems around the world. Last night, Ed­u­ca­tion ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Lindsay Pater­son, of the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh, said: ‘In read­ing, Scot­land has taken a decade of enor­mous up­heaval in schools to get back to where it started.

‘In maths and sci­ence, the de­cline con­tin­ues. In Eng­land, the ad­vance is steady in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics; there is a weaker de­cline in sci­ence than in Scot­land.

‘De­spite a decade of aus­ter­ity, stu­dents fac­ing dif­fi­cult so­cioe­co­nomic cir­cum­stances do bet­ter in Eng­land than in Scot­land.

‘Scot­land’s over­all per­for­mance is best de­scribed as stag­nat­ing in medi­ocrity.’

Larry Flana­gan, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the EIS teach­ing union, said: ‘There is a lot of rich data in PISA 2018 which will re­quire time for proper anal­y­sis.

‘It is clear Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion is ac­tively work­ing on the key el­e­ments iden­ti­fied by the OECD as nec­es­sary for con­tin­ued im­prove­ment – tack­ling the im­pact of de­pri­va­tion on ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, en­sur­ing high stan­dards of teach­ing, and be­ing con­cerned about pupil well-be­ing.’

Scot­tish Labour ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Iain Gray said: ‘While Ni­cola Stur­geon tours TV stu­dios and elec­tion de­bates boast­ing of her sup­posed achieve­ments, the re­al­ity is that her so-called pri­or­ity of ed­u­ca­tion con­tin­ues a slow de­cline on the SNP’s watch.

‘The small im­prove­ment in read­ing is wel­come but fur­ther falls in maths and sci­ence are alarm­ing.

In ev­ery area, per­for­mance has de­te­ri­o­rated un­der the SNP.

‘[Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary] John Swin­ney and Ni­cola Stur­geon have been warned again and again that we have a prob­lem with STEM [sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths] sub­jects be­ing squeezed out of the cur­ricu­lum but they refuse to lis­ten.’

Scot­tish Lib Dem leader Wil­lie Ren­nie said: ‘John Swin­ney can’t hide from these ap­palling re­sults.

‘Scot­land used to have one of the best ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems in the world but un­der the SNP it’s now just av­er­age.

‘Ni­cola Stur­geon claimed ed­u­ca­tion was her top pri­or­ity, but no­body is now in any doubt that the SNP will al­ways put in­de­pen­dence first, no matter the cost.’

Mr Swin­ney said: ‘These are very en­cour­ag­ing re­sults and the lat­est sign that our ed­u­ca­tion re­forms are work­ing. Scot­tish schools are im­prov­ing and this in­ter­na­tional study con­firms that.

‘There is plenty of work still to do to im­prove Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion but the re­port should give peo­ple a strong sense that we are on the right track, mak­ing sub­stan­tial progress and see­ing re­sults where it counts – in the class­room.’

Miss Stur­geon said: ‘The im­prove­ment in read­ing is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing. On maths and sci­ence, they are sta­ble and they are in line with the OECD av­er­age.

‘We recog­nise there is work... to do to see the same im­prove­ment in maths and sci­ence as we have recorded this time in read­ing.’

‘Long-term chal­lenge’: John Swin­ney

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