MSPs To Vote On Motion Ministers 'Failing' Pupils

8 March 2017, 08:22 | Updated: 8 March 2017, 08:24

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood

A motion accusing the Scottish Government of "failing'' pupils, teachers and parents with its handling of education will be voted on by MSPs.

Labour is set to challenge the SNP administration on its record in schools, with education spokesman Iain Gray accusing the nationalists of presiding over a "disastrous decade''.

The party's motion states that "many teachers have lost confidence'' in the official bodies Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and also that "disappointed'' international figures show "a decline in reading, maths and science scores in Scotland''.

Labour will also highlight staff levels and resources for schools, claiming since the SNP came to power in 2007 teacher numbers have fallen by 4,000 and local government budgets have been cut by £1.5 billion since 2011.

Speaking head of the Holyrood debate, Mr Gray said: "Nicola Sturgeon said education would be her top priority, which is why she put her top minister, John Swinney, in charge of the brief.

"It is becoming clearer by the day that a decade of SNP control of education has created an almighty mess that Mr Swinney is struggling to clean up.

"The SNP has had a disastrous decade in charge of education, with 4,000 fewer teachers, 1,000 fewer support staff and a £1.5 billion cut to local budgets for schools and services since 2011.

"Every young person should have the opportunity to get on in life and the way to ensure that is to properly invest in our schools. Labour believes that together, we're stronger.

"That's why we want to use the new tax powers so everyone pays their fair share. Instead, the SNP has frozen taxes for the richest few while our schools, teachers and children miss out.''

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is prioritising an ambitious programme of education reform. Our £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund is helping pupils in areas with the highest concentrations of deprivation and from April, £120 million will go directly to headteachers to help them close the attainment gap.

"Last year, a record proportion of young people went on to continue their education, additional training or into employment after leaving school. And just last week, a report showed that in 2015-16, spending on education in local authorities rose in real terms.

"Later this year, standardised assessment will start in schools so that we know in detail how our schools are performing, where schools are doing well and where they need to do further work to improve.''