Scottish Government’s education record comes under fire

Written by Gemma Fraser on 5 April 2019 in News

The First Minister and Education Scotland have both been accused of ignoring evidence

Image credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of being “in denial” over her pledge to make education her number one priority.

It follows a series of damning reports which highlight teacher shortages and a reduction of subjects on offer in schools.

Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative’s interim leader, quizzed Sturgeon on the figures at this week’s First Minister’s Questions after Gayle Gorman, the head of Education Scotland, admitted that teacher shortages were limiting the number of subjects pupils can take.

He said: “We know that subject choice in Scottish schools has narrowed significantly under the SNP.

“And we know schools say that a lack of teachers, fewer in every single year this government has been in office, has been a core reason.”

Earlier this week, Universities Scotland said students were losing out as a result, particularly those from more deprived areas.

Carlaw added: “Nicola Sturgeon has nowhere to hide on this issue.

“Her party has been in sole charge of Scotland’s education system since 2007, and she made her own pledge that education would be her top priority on becoming First Minister.

“Clearly that has not been the case, because in a range of areas performance on education continues to be struggle.

“She’s in denial about that pledge, and the fact is she’s failed to act on it.

“She now has to explain to Scotland’s pupils and teachers why she’s failed to come good on this promise.”

The Scottish Greens have also accused Education Scotland of being “wilfully blind” to school inequality.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s education committee, Gorman said there was no “significant” link between the number of Higher subjects available in schools and the wealth of an area.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: “We know that pupils in the poorest communities regularly have fewer subjects to choose from than those in the wealthiest areas.

“This is clear, verifiable inequality and Scotland’s national education body seem wilfully blind to it.

“Frankly, it’s shocking to hear officials claim that the ‘motivation’ which apparently comes from travelling to another school somehow makes up for the opportunities missed due to that daily travel time.

“A young person’s opportunities to learn shouldn’t depend on the wealth of their postcode but that is clearly what’s happening, despite Education Scotland’s ridiculous denials.”

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