SNP Government Fails To Bring Education Debates to Parliament for Last 19 Months

27 June 2019

The SNP has not led one single debate on their top priority of education in this parliamentary year, with the last Government led debate held on 2nd November 2017.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, said that the SNP’s poor record on education - including the teacher recruitment crisis, narrowing of the curriculum, the explosion of multi-level teaching and the growing crisis in additional support needs – was why no debates have been brought forward by the SNP government for 19 months.

Additionally, new figures released by Scottish Labour the SNP government now spend over one thousand pounds less per student on teaching in Scottish universities than they did when they came into office in 2007.

That is on top of a reduction in spending of £427 per pupil in primary schools and warnings from the Auditor General that colleges are not achieving financial sustainability.

Richard Leonard said to Nicola Sturgeon :

“If education really is your top priority then why does research, we are publishing today, show that the Government is spending over one thousand pounds less per student on teaching in our universities since it came to office?

“Isn’t this the record on education that the government is so unwilling and unable to debate? A record of cuts – cuts to schools, cuts to colleges and cuts to universities?”


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Time for Humility and Realism from Swinney on Schools - Iain Gray

25 June 2019

Scottish Labour has called on John Swinney to go back to the drawing board on schools over the summer, as they break for the holiday.

Ahead of an update to Parliament which Mr Swinney will give, Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said it was time for some humility and realism from the Education Secretary.

The Cabinet Secretary should:

• Scrap Scottish National Standardised Assessments for Primary 1s as instructed by Parliament.

• Restore the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy and re-enter Scotland into internationally recognised measurements of literacy, numeracy and science (PIRLS and TIMSS).

• Urgently address the teacher recruitment and workload crisis.

• Urgently review and address the reduction in subjects which senior pupils can study.

• Halt the “explosion” of teaching in classes covering three and four different levels.

• Provide local authorities with enough funding to make certain that children who have additional support needs are not left behind.

Whether it is problems with his standardised tests, narrowing subject choices, a lack of data or the crisis of resourcing, Scottish Labour said the Education Secretary is completely in denial of the reality for most of Scotland’s teachers, pupils and parents.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“It’s beyond time that John Swinney woke up and showed some humility over his bungled plans to reform Scotland’s education system.

“From the debacle of his standardised tests, the narrowing of subject choices for secondary pupils, multilevel teaching and a crisis of resourcing in our classrooms, John Swinney is in denial about the reality of what is happening in our schools.

"His so called 'reforms' have been pushed through against opposition on all sides by and the Education Secretary who thinks he knows better than teachers, parents or educational experts.

“It really is time he showed some humility, listened to teachers, parents and parliament and got the fundamentals of resourcing and curriculum right instead of ploughing on with reforms no one wants or needs.”

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SNP Must Stop Classing Zero-Hour Contracts As A "Positive Destination " For Young People - Iain Gray

18 June 2019

Commenting on the release of the ‘positive destinations’ statistics, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“Scotland’s young people are continuing to achieve, and any and all progress towards ensuring they can reach their full potential is to be welcomed.

“However, these ‘positive destination’ stats include those in zero-hours, temporary and precarious work, by no measure a ‘positive’ experience just after school. Even within this, an unacceptable deprivation-based gap remains.

“If the government want to use these statistics as proof of success, they must accept Labour’s demands and ensure the criteria removes exploitative working conditions.”


Attainment Gap Faced by Looked After Children Revealed

18 June 2019

Statistics released today have highlighted the incredible attainment gap suffered by Looked After Children (LAC) in education.

The Scottish Government statistics show that, for 2017-18:

• Not even two out of five LAC achieved one National 5 qualification, and more are now leaving by the end of S4 than the previous year

• There is a 17 point percentage gap between LAC and the general population who go to a ‘positive follow up destination’ after school

• 4.5% of LAC went into higher education 3 months after leaving school, compared to 41% of all school leavers

• At all CfE levels, across all age groups, an attainment gap exists in Reading, Writing, Listening & Talking and Numeracy

Labour said the statistics show the need for urgent reform.

Scottish Labour's education spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

"While we recognise that the situation has improved for Care Experienced Young People in the last decade, these shocking statistics highlight that the young people in our care are still being failed.

"Only days ago the First Minister reiterated her promises to improve things for care experienced young people. We need more than promises though.

"That not even 40% achieved at least one National 5 qualification is a national embarrassment. These young people are having their life chances significantly narrowed by a system that is clearly not meeting their needs.

"The Independent Care Review, led by Fiona Duncan is doing incredibly important work. These statistics however show that reform can’t wait and the Government must start implementing its early recommendations as and when the review announce them, without delay."

John Swinney Guilty of "Supreme Arrogance" Over Primary 1 tests - Iain Gray

12 June 2019

Speaking after the Education Secretary's statement to Parliament, Scottish Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“It remains an act of supreme arrogance for John Swinney to continue to defy the will of the Scottish Parliament.

“The Parliament said in September that testing Primary 1 pupils must end, yet the SNP government continues to ignore that decision.

“The review reflects many of parliament’s concerns, including the lack of a clear rationale for the tests.

"It says the results cannot provide national data or compare school with school in the way Ministers have repeatedly said they could.

“Parliament was right in September and it is still right today.

“The testing of Primary 1 pupils should stop.”


Audit Report of Colleges is “An Indictment of the SNP” – Iain Gray

4 June 2019

Commenting on the Audit Scotland report, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

"Yet again Audit Scotland lays bare the SNP’s failure to support our colleges.

"The financial problems faced by Scotland's colleges under the SNP’s systematic underfunding is set to deepen in the years ahead.

"What’s more, the Government has failed to allocate the funds necessary to maintain the college estate.

"It is no wonder that colleges are far from reaching attainment targets when they clearly do not have the resources to do so.

"Meanwhile colleges still have 120,000 fewer students than when the SNP came to power.

"This is less an audit and more an indictment of the SNP Government’s failure on colleges."