Education (Subject Choice)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25th April 2019.

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The First Minister:

Education Scotland is working on reducing bureaucracy and tackling unnecessary workload for teachers, which Jackson Carlaw has asked us to do in the past. Education Scotland is getting on with the job.

Jackson Carlaw is, to some extent, right when he says that the issue is about the choices that young people have and the breadth of education. Of course, curriculum for excellence is designed to provide those. However, the issue is about choice and breadth across the entirety of the senior phase, not in one year of the senior phase alone.

The problem with Jackson Carlaw’s analysis is that the outcomes from education that we are seeing, which I have just cited to the chamber, do not bear it out. More young people are leaving school with qualifications, the number of young people who leave school with five highers or more has gone up and there are record numbers in higher education, including record numbers of students from deprived areas.

I am the first to concede that we have more work to do. That is why we are getting on and doing it. However, the evidence that I have just read out says that young people in our schools and our education system are performing well, and they and their teachers should be congratulated on it.