Lamont accuses Government of altering an Audit Scotland report
Johann Lamont has accused the Scottish Government of watering down criticism in an Audit Scotland report on educational attainment.
The report shows that, although overall attainment in Scotland is improving, the gap between the lowest and highest performing pupils is widening, with “significant variations between councils, schools and individual groups of pupils.”
It also found that council spending on schools has dropped by £3.8m from 2010/2011 to 2012/2013.
Lamont quoted excerpts from the draft report suggesting there had been a slower pace of improvement in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, before claiming the points had been removed by the Government.
Speaking in First Minister’s Questions, she said: “The excerpts that I read out were in Audit Scotland’s original report, before the Scottish Government got its hands on the text. In the final report, the criticisms disappeared, because the Scottish Government did not want the public to know about them. The reference to the decline in standards was taken out and the fact that the rest of the UK is improving faster than Scotland was taken out.”
Salmond responded: “Johann Lamont now has to impugn Audit Scotland’s integrity to try to make a point. The problem for Johann Lamont is that the comparisons with the position under the Labour Party do not rely just on the report by Audit Scotland – an organisation of outstanding integrity – that the Accounts Commission published today. They also rely on the PISA statistics, which show that Scotland’s performance declined when she was a minister—I do not hold her personally responsible, but she was jointly and severally liable for that decline—but that attainment has improved.”
Education Secretary Mike Russell has asked Lamont for an apology, saying: “Johann Lamont has reached a new low today. She has attempted a smear not just the Scottish Government but also Audit Scotland and all the different organisations involved in reviewing the Accounts Commission’s report.”
The report demonstrates that although deprivation still heavily influences attainment, schools that focus on teaching leadership, improving teaching and emphasise monitoring see the biggest improvement.
It also found that although Scottish pupils are falling behind those in other countries such as Poland, Finland and China, they still outperform those in England and Wales.