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Scottish Conservatives propose major reform of key element of Curriculum for Excellence

The Scottish Conservatives have today called for a complete reform of National 4 so that all pupils studying at this level will be required to sit exams in both basic literacy and numeracy.

At present, pupil assessment in National 4 is based only on teacher judgment and does not allow pupils to gain formal qualifications in the basic skills - something which many parents, teachers and employers believe is a serious flaw within Curriculum for Excellence.

Four years on from Nicola Sturgeon’s request to “judge me on education” the recent SQA results show that Scottish education has “gone backwards” on her watch and urgent reform is necessary.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith has said that National 4 should be completely reformed so that all pupils are required to sit examinations in basic literacy and numeracy.

The Scottish Conservatives are also calling for:

  • The SNP to reverse their decision to take Scotland out of the TIMSS and PIRLS measurements.
  • Education Scotland to no longer be the “judge and jury” in charge of both curriculum development and inspection.
  • Full clarity within curriculum guidance.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith said:

“Four years ago, Nicola Sturgeon asked us to “judge her on education.”

“That statement now has a very hollow ring to it. No-one can pretend that all is well in Scotland’s schools. Four years on, the recent SQA results show that Scottish education has gone backwards.

“The pass rates for Higher and Advanced Higher are the lowest since the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was introduced and there has been a fall in Higher pass rates for four consecutive years.

“That is a trend and a very worrying one, especially when the Higher is supposed to be the “gold standard” of Scottish education.

“Our pupils and schools are being let down by the SNP’s botched implementation of the curriculum and its qualifications system.

“Above all, National 4 should be completely reformed with new exams in basic literacy and numeracy that ensure every pupil leaves school able to read, write and count to a high level.

“A renewed focus on core skills in literacy and numeracy at the Broad General Education (BGE) phase and National 4 level would be far more complementary to vocational training and better prepare young people for the world of work.”

Dundee drug report shows need for cross-sector approach

The Dundee Drugs Commission report published today shows the need for more cross-sector working to better support addicts and their families.

It highlights the issues in the current fractured system, and recommends the development of a ‘whole systems’ model of care.

The Scottish Conservatives have welcomed the report, with many of the findings being mirrored in their ‘Addiction Strategy: Life Plan’, which was published last year and aims to halve the number of drug deaths in Scotland over the next five years.

They said that the SNP Government must now react to these findings and engage with opposition parties to develop a new approach to the drug death emergency in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs MSP said:


“I welcome the Dundee Drugs Commission report and hope this will form an important contribution to the new national approach to develop real solutions to the drugs deaths crisis.

“The findings clearly point towards the need to develop cross-sector working to help support addicts and their families, with significant concerns being expressed over the fractured system of treatment and support.

“This system of services and often ‘Cinderella’ approach to funding for drug and addiction services across Scotland is something SNP Ministers have been consistently challenged on.  

“I have spent the summer listening to those at the front line of drug and addiction services in order to develop the new cross-portfolio approach that is needed to turn this national public health emergency around.

“It’s now time the SNP did the same, and they need to take action on the recommendations contained within this report.

“SNP Ministers must constructively engage with opposition MSPs to take forward a new approach to the provision of NHS and third sector rehabilitation and support services.”


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