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by Gemma Fraser
14 June 2019
Children taking fewer subjects in school

Image credit: Bart Everson

Children taking fewer subjects in school

Pupils in Scotland are taking fewer subjects in S4 now than they were six years ago, it has emerged.

Figures reveal that the vast majority of Scottish S4 pupils used to study for seven or more qualifications, but now only around half of schools enter pupils for that number of subjects.

Research by the Scottish Conservatives has shown there are now 165 schools in Scotland where pupils take six subjects or less, whereas in 2013, that figure was only 46.

In contrast, the number of schools where pupils take seven or more has almost halved in that time, from 308 to 182.

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the issue at First Minister’s Questions.

But in response to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, she said discussing the issue was simply “talking down Scottish education” and pointed to the increase in the number of pupils leaving school with five Highers or more.

That follows education secretary John Swinney’s comments at last week’s FMQs when he described Davidson’s criticism of the SNP’s performance on education as a “moan-fest”.

The new statistics have been backed by Professor Jim Scott, an expert on subject choice.

He said: “Just over 200 schools have declines, or significant declines, in the number of entries, whereas just over 50 demonstrate an increase.”

Davidson said: “If we’re going to improve education in this country we need to accept the evidence.

“That evidence shows a child in S4 is, on average, taking fewer subjects than they would have done just a few years ago.

“But this exchange again proved this SNP government is simply unwilling to act.

“If both Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney don’t start listening, the education system under their control will continue to go downhill.

“This is the consequence of schools simply not having enough teachers or resources to deliver the world-class levels of education Scots deserve.

“Nicola Sturgeon should spend less effort trying to shoot the messenger, and more time acting on the evidence.”

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