Question Time — Scottish Executive — Education and Lifelong Learning – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 21st June 2007.

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Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative 2:15 pm, 21st June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive how it will improve standards of discipline in schools. (S3O-260)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is committed to helping schools create and maintain a peaceful and positive learning environment for all. That includes smaller class sizes, which teachers say will be a significant factor in tackling indiscipline. We will also develop new guidelines on approaches that promote positive behaviour and on dealing with more serious indiscipline.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

I am sure that the cabinet secretary agrees with me that in order to understand the discipline problem, statistics must be published. I know that she agrees with me about that because when she was in Opposition, she called for the publication of statistics and said:

"regular statistics should be produced so that there can be accountability."—[Official Report, 17 March 2005; c 15454.]

The cabinet secretary told my colleague Elizabeth Smith during yesterday's debate that she was committed to looking at "options" only, rather than publishing statistics. Will she tell us why she has changed her mind?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

It is important that we have robust and accurate statistics on which people can be held to account. There has been some reflection on the point because I have concerns about the robustness of the statistics that were produced annually. There is no point collecting statistics if they are of no use to Government because there are different interpretations of them from teacher to teacher, school to school and local authority to local authority.

I want robust information. As I have said, I am happy to engage with the Conservatives on how we move forward. I quote from my letter to Elizabeth Smith:

"Once I have obtained the cost and impact of instituting a new national collation of data on indiscipline on an annual basis in addition to or instead of more in depth studies, I would like to discuss options with you as well as educational professionals in deciding the best way forward."

That is the best way forward.