Scotland’s education system was once the country’s crown jewel, yet under 14 years of SNP leadership, it has been reduced to a national embarrassment that is failing Scotland’s children.
Scotland recorded its worst-ever performance in maths and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), ranking 25th and 24th respectively.
Our education system is now no longer fit for purpose.
After 14 years of SNP failure, it is the children in deprived areas that are paying the price for the SNP Government’s inability to get a grasp on the attainment gap experienced across the country, especially here in West Scotland.
Back in 2015, Nicola Sturgeon vowed to make education her priority, she said she should be judged on her education record. If that is the case, disappointing is the first word that comes to mind.
Take Milngavie and Clydebank, for example, two towns only minutes away but worlds apart; one where schools rank 14th out of 340 schools, and one where schools rank 230th. One where 68% pupils leave with 5 Highers, one where only 33% leave with 5 Highers.
We must tackle the ever-growing attainment gap that is looming over our children’s future.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) fund has had six years to make a difference and yet the attainment gap continues to grow and the number of children in West Dunbartonshire living in poverty is on the rise.
Schools are desperately trying to get back on track after the devastating effects of the pandemic saw our schools closed, mask mandates introduced, and sports days and nursery graduations banned.
It’s clear that the attainment challenge funds attempts to claw back the gap are having a minimal impact. Diverting funds from Scotland’s most deprived areas is not going to help reduce the attainment gap.
Yet increased funding alone is not enough – there needs to be a clear-cut plan which details how money is allocated and spent alongside measurable targets to measure progress.
I hope that the SNP will take on board what my colleagues and I have said in Chamber, that more focus must be placed on teachers and more support must be directed towards schools and staff.
Scotland’s children - our children - deserve an education system that is not content with meeting baseline targets but strives to be world-beating, competitive, and most of all, inclusive.