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Education Reforms

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

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I spend all my time focused on the real issues that face Scottish education, which is why I follow the international evidence that says that a successful education system is one in which decisions are taken as close as possible to young people. That is the culture and approach that we are trying to create through the empowered schools reforms.

I will offer a few observations on the various points that Mr Gray raised. Local authority budgets for education have risen four years in a row, with the most recent available data showing a substantial increase in real terms. Teacher numbers are at their highest since 2010, and we have the largest number of primary teachers since 1980.

I know that the Education and Skills Committee has been looking at subject choice: I think that there is a much broader choice available to young people in Scottish education than there was when I was at school.

On Scottish national standardised assessments, we commissioned an independent review to examine the issues. That review has reported and has demonstrated the value of standardised assessments.

Mr Gray knows that I am actively working to strengthen and improve the support that is available to meet the needs of young people with additional support needs. I will continue to focus on that in the period ahead.

I hope that that reassures Mr Gray that the Government and local authority partners are doing everything that is humanly possible to address all the key issues that concern him.