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.
Nicola Sturgeon's government aren't just failing to educate Scotland's students - they are trying to cover those failures up.— Jackson Carlaw MSP (@Jackson_Carlaw) February 27, 2020
After 13 long years of failure, the SNP's time is up. #FMQs pic.twitter.com/VOVJOSMnar
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.
FM: "While you have year on year fluctuations, the long-term trend in Scottish education and in exam passes in particular is one of improvement. We see more young people leaving school with these qualifications now than was the case when this gov't took office." #FMQs— The SNP (@theSNP) February 27, 2020
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."
The FMs response to @Jackson_Carlaw over Scottish education clearly shows that she & her government are completely in denial. If you question them on anything you are “talking down (insert portfolio)” It simply won’t wash. You cant fix a problem until you admit there is one #fmqs— Jamie Greene MSP (@jamiegreeneUK) February 27, 2020
FM: "Scottish education is improving and we will continue to push forward with these improvements. Jackson Carlaw doesn't like it but it is in the interests of pupils the length and breadth of this country." #FMQs— The SNP (@theSNP) February 27, 2020
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".
Sturgeon says pupils are entitled to music as one of the core 8 parts of the curriculum. Says she is concerned by any moves by councils to limit access to music tuition. She says it "should be provided for free". Says budget increase for councils should make it easier. #FMQs— Holyrood magazine (@HolyroodDaily) February 27, 2020
Willie Coffey invites the first minister to praise the impact of Biffy Clyro and Fatherson on Kilmarnock. Nicola Sturgeon says both bands are "excellent and inspirational" #fmqs— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) February 27, 2020