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