Nicola Sturgeon shamed as spending on Scottish school pupils ‘plunged under SNP’

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The Scottish Qualifications Authority will be replaced as part of a “substantial” overhaul of education, after an independent review. The Scottish government said changes would be made in response to the OECD’s report on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). It backed the curriculum as a whole but said there was too much focus on exams in latter years of schooling.

The exams body is to be broken up and replaced, with pupils, parents and teachers to be consulted on changes.

Schools agency Education Scotland is also to be shaken up, with responsibility for school inspections to be split off to a new independent system.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said there would be a “period of change” to “improve, to achieve more and to deliver for Scotland’s pupils”.

However, opposition parties said the report was a “damning judgement of Scotland’s exams system” and that reforms were “long overdue”.

The report into the effectiveness of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was commissioned by the Scottish government last year.

It was supposed to be published before last month’s Holyrood election but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, leading accusations that the SNP were seeking to keep potential bad news out of the campaign.

The findings of the report do not come as a huge surprise.

In 2019, it was revealed by Scottish Labour that funding for school pupils in Scotland fell by hundreds of pounds per child since 2010 under the SNP.

The party said its analysis of local government figures suggested a real-terms fall in spending per primary pupil of £427 per head, from £5,411 in 2010/11 to £4,984 in 2017/18.

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It added that the figures also indicated a real-terms fall for secondary pupils – down by £265 from £7,145 to £6,880 over the same period.

Labour claimed Scottish government policies, including the Pupil Equity Fund and the Scottish Attainment Challenge, were not coming close to reversing the cuts that preceded them.

The party’s former education spokesman, Iain Gray MSP, said: “For almost a decade now the SNP has failed to stand up to Tory austerity, and instead turned Holyrood into a conveyor belt for cuts.

“The consequence of that is huge falls in per-head spending for our school pupils, with spending per primary pupil over £400 less in real terms than it was in 2010.

“We can’t give our young people the best chance to get on in life while cutting school budgets, and we will not see the attainment gap close with overworked teachers facing increasing class sizes.

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“Labour would make the richest pay a fair share to invest in our pupils, teachers and schools to make Scotland a world leader in education again.”

A spokesman for then-Education Secretary John Swinney said: “It takes some level of brass neck for Labour to blame the SNP for Tory austerity when they themselves campaigned to ensure that the Tories at Westminster will continue to set Scotland’s budget and be able to inflict austerity on our public services.

“It was Gordon Brown who kicked off austerity as Prime Minister, and the Tories who continued it with zeal.

“Despite the constraints placed on our budget by Westminster, total revenue spending on schools has risen by over £600million since the SNP took office, and spending per pupil is increasing.

“Recent figures revealed that over 94 percent of pupils had a ‘positive destination’ – including work, training or further study – within three months of leaving school last year.

“They also showed pupils are staying at school for longer and gaining more qualifications between fourth and sixth year. The attainment gap between school leavers achieving a pass at Higher level or better is at a record low.”

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