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Covid-19 (Education)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I recognise the strength of feeling that Johann Lamont has on that question. I think that she knows how difficult it was for me to take this decision. Johann Lamont also knows of the policy commitment of the Government to work to close the poverty-related attainment gap. That is my policy focus today, it will be my policy focus at the end of this crisis, and it will be my policy to protect that focus throughout the handling of this crisis, because I want to see no damage done to the life chances of any young people in Scotland, particularly those who come from the most deprived areas.

We will be working hard to sustain education provision as effectively as possible. There is an argument that schools should be able to provide, in a more limited way, the support that Johann Lamont has talked about in their localities. In the approach that we have taken, we have left sufficient flexibility to enable that to be taken forward at local level. It is important that schools communicate with individual families. Schools know their people, and they must support them as effectively as possible. We will create the assistance and support and deliver the flexibility to enable that to happen.