Education record targeted by opposition MSPs

Education once again the chosen line of attack at First Minister's Questions, with Tories hitting out at '13 years of failure'

Education record targeted by opposition MSPs

Education was – as has become common of late – the focal point of First Minister's Questions this afternoon.

After a busy week for Scottish education, with numerous reports and a wide range of data being released, new Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw opened FMQs with an attack on first minister Nicola Sturgeon's education record.

The first minister denied there was a lack of transparency in the publication of analysis of exam results last week.

The Tories argued that this was published at 8pm to ensure the government could not be held to account for the analysis, which saw various bodies giving their views on the exam results data published last August, including the downward trend for Higher passes.

However, Ms Sturgeon responded that 71.1 per cent of young people left school with an SCQF level 5 qualification (National 5 or equivalent) in 2006-07, against 85.1 per cent in 2018-19. She also said the number of pupils leaving school with a Higher qualification rose markedly in the same period.

The Tory leader also took the first minister to task over comments made by education secretary John Swinney yesterday – who also made a statement in Parliament on last week's exams analysis  – that changing the system "takes time".

Mr Carlaw said: "You've had 13 long years in power, 13 years of failure – how much longer do you and this dreadful government need?"

Ms Sturgeon said: "Scottish education is improving and we will continue to push forward with these improvements.

"Jackson Carlaw may not like it but it's in the interest of pupils the length and breadth of this country."

Ms Sturgeon also addressed concerns about music tuition, which were raised once again by the EIS teaching union last week.

It is stepping up its work to protects music tuition from cuts, "in the face of the continuing threat of severe cuts to the service".

And there was also an unexpected musical turn in First Minister's Questions as Ms Sturgeon was invited to heap praise on Scottish bands Biffy Clyro and Fatherson.

 

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