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by Louise Wilson
07 December 2023
Humza Yousaf accepts educational performance ‘poor’

First Minister Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf accepts educational performance ‘poor’

First Minister Humza Yousaf admitted recent figures on education were “poor” as Labour’s Anas Sarwar urged him to apologise for “destroying” Scotland’s previously strong system.

Sarwar said the SNP's record on education was a “litany of broken promises” and teachers and learners had been “let down” by the Scottish Government.

And Conservative Douglas Ross said there was a “generation of young Scots that have been failed”.

Yousaf said the Pisa results were “not good enough” but he refused to apologise, citing separate figures on positive destinations for school leavers.

The fiery FMQs exchange took place days after fresh Pisa statistics found a fall in educational performance in Scotland.

The international study put Scotland for the first time behind OECD averages in maths and science, and showed a decline across all three areas maths, science and reading.

Sarwar said: “Our education system was once the envy of the world. Now, because of this government, we lag behind.”

He continued: “Will the first minister apologise to the people of Scotland for destroying our once world-leading education system?”

The first minister acknowledged: “The Pisa results were not good enough.”

But he went on to say that much of the commentary around the results was “unfair” and he urged opposition leaders not to “suddenly dismiss the entirety of Scottish education” based on “one set of data”.

He said 94.3 per cent of young people had gone onto positive destinations, either finding work or training placements, or continuing education.

Ross dubbed the Pisa figures a “national disgrace” and he said standards had been in decline since the SNP took office in 2007.

He added: “It cannot be a coincidence that this has taken place during the disastrous implementation of Curriculum for Excellence... Isn’t it time to accept after the worst ever school results that the SNP’s curriculum needs to be scrapped?”

Education secretary Jenny Gilruth will make a statement to parliament next week detailing actions to improve literacy and numeracy.

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