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by Andrew Learmonth
13 April 2021
School trips and tree planting on the agenda as parties head back out on the campaign trail

School trips and tree planting on the agenda as parties head back out on the campaign trail

SCOTLAND’S political parties are back on the campaign trail today, after a pause in electioneering following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. 

The day culminates in the second leaders’ debate of the campaign, with the 90-minute exchange on STV starting at 7.30pm. 

Before then SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney will be in Perthshire to unveil a package of measures designed aimed at reducing the cost of the school day.

The Education Secretary will say that his party if reelected, will end the practice - common in practical subjects such as art and design, music, home economics, hospitality and technology - of pupils being expected to pay fees for materials or provide their own.

Swinney will also say that every pupil should be able to take part fully in school trips, including P7 residential trips and at least one optional secondary school trip. 

He will also announce that grants towards school uniform costs for poorer families will increase from the £100 minimum to £120 in Primary School and £150 in Secondary School.

Swinney said: “If re-elected, charges for practical subjects in school will be abolished, poorer families will be exempt from the cost of school trips and the value of uniform grants will be increased.

“The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but particularly so for the younger generations - and by reducing cost of the school day, we will make a real difference in the lives of children from low-income families.”

The Greens have also pledged to make it easier for children and young people to take part in school trips.

Their proposal would see the establishment a support fund to ensure low-income families are not excluded on grounds of cost. 

Ross Greer, education spokesman for the Greens said: “It’s really important to get kids outdoors again at every opportunity and as soon as possible, now we’re beginning to leave the pandemic behind us."

He added: “We know these trips are massively beneficial to their development, helping to hone social and problem solving skills, build friendships and cement an appreciation for our natural world.

“Every child should have that opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will set out plans to introduce a new Nature Recovery Law to set legal targets across government to clean up our air, soils, seas and rivers. 

The proposal will include measures to increase Scotland’s forest cover by an additional 36 million trees every year, and set a national target that 30 percent of all publicly owned land should be used for rewilding.

Rennie said:  ““I want future generations of Scots to enjoy our woodlands, our national parks and our beautiful landscapes. Taking action now to stop the nature crisis is our duty. 

“As a sign of our ambition we are proposing plans that would see seven native trees planted for every person in Scotland, every year.”

In Edinburgh, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar will unveil his party’s new AdVan. 

Labour was supposed to have launched their manifesto yesterday. However, the recall of Holyrood and the pause in campaigning following Prince Philip’s passing, forced them to postpone. It will now be published next Tuesday. 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will also be in Edinburgh to set out details of the Scottish Conservative manifesto pledge for an Armed Forces and Veterans Bill.

Meanwhile, Alba has won the backing of Peterhead skipper, John Buchan. 

In a message of support, the fishermen said, the industry had been let down over Brexit. He said: “Back in the 2016 referendum on an almost daily basis at the harbour in Peterhead, you had either Boris Johnson or Michael Gove, a’ these people who made political capital out of the fishing industry. Now of course they are conspicuous by their absence. 

"If Boris Johnson was to turn up in Peterhead tomorrow then he would need to learn to swim very quickly because he would probably be tossed in the dock because he used the Scottish fishing industry as a political football".

 

 

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - MSPs expected to confirm SNP leader as first minister

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