The Scottish government should form a “catch-up plan” to address the disruption to schooling caused by the pandemic, Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.
He has called for the recruitment of 3,000 more teachers over the course of the next Parliament, at a cost of £550 million, as well as a national tutoring programme.
Mr Ross also said extensive research should be carried out to understand the depth of the disruption that the virus has caused to education.
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The Scottish government promised last year to recruit a further 1,400 teachers, with statistics released in December showing a rise of 1,153 during 2020.
Mr Ross said: “We owe it to the younger generation to treat Scotland’s classroom crisis as a national emergency, and that is why our catch-up plan is so important.
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“Children have missed out on months of proper schooling and the SNP’s remote education has been poor and patchy. A significant long-term catch-up effort is required to avoid creating a lost generation.
“The Scottish government needs to invest in tutoring for the most disadvantaged, recruit 3,000 new teachers and conduct extensive and urgent research.
“These measures would ensure that no child misses out on opportunities due to the pandemic and they are all enabled to catch up and excel. Times are far from normal. It is time to think creatively.”
Mr Ross said the tutoring programme should use the expertise of supply teachers, student teachers and other tutors to help the most disadvantaged children recover, with ringfenced government funds available.
More support should also be put in place for children at key educational transition stages, such as moving into primary or secondary school, he said, after a Scottish government "equity audit" found these pupils had been hit harder by Covid-19 disruption.