Exam report row leaves SNP’s education record ‘in tatters’
A damning official report into exam results – snuck out by SNP ministers late at night in a bid to avoid scrutiny – exposes an education record “in tatters”, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
Education secretary John Swinney has been severely criticised for slipping the document out after Holyrood shut down for the week in the hope of dodging negative publicity.
The report itself – which reveals falling pass rates across many key subject areas – even discusses how to present the results positively, and suggests a five-point spin plan to divert attention away from the results.
The Scottish Conservatives repeatedly demanded that the SNP government publishes the results of its review into last year’s exam results.
That review took place despite Mr Swinney claiming the declining performance of pupils was merely a statistical blip.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Jamie Greene said:
“These revelations are a matter of grave concern to every parent, teacher and young person.
“John Swinney was told by his civil servants back in August that there were serious issues about the downturn in Higher passes for four consecutive years yet he told us that there was nothing to worry about.
“He said Scottish schools had produced a ‘strong set of results’ and that the downturn was due to ‘annual variation’.
“That was patently not true and this information proves it.
“What is worse is the fact that, on several occasions since August, John Swinney has not come clean to either the Scottish Parliament or to the Education Committee about the reasons for the problems.
“The Scottish Conservatives asked both him and the First Minister on several occasions to provide this information but it was never forthcoming.
“The SNP’s record on schooling has always been poor but this latest episode leaves its reputation in tatters.
“Even when faced with these terrible figures, the SNP is still trying to spin its way out of this.
“Instead of addressing the failings and improving things, ministers want to pull the wool over the eyes of the public – that’s a complete disgrace.”
Notes to editors:
SNP ministers have been criticised for releasing the report late on Thursday night:
SNP must increase police funding or face putting public at risk
Nicola Sturgeon has been told to increase police funding, or face putting the safety of the general public at risk.
The SNP’s budget process left Police Scotland tens of millions of pounds short, and senior officers have warned the settlement must increase for the force to do its job properly.
But at First Minister’s Questions today, Ms Sturgeon dismissed those fears, claiming she was satisfied with the current plans.
This is despite the Scottish Police Federation tabling evidence to MSPs today which stated: “The police officers we represent are working harder than ever. They are under strain and it is taking its toll on their physical and mental health and their families. Their working conditions are not satisfactory. In some cases, through no fault of their own, we are not providing a good service to the public.”
That followed warnings from senior officers that a lack of SNP funding meant Police Scotland was unable to equip police men and women with body-worn cameras and the conditions of already dilapidated police stations would not improve.
As part of their budget demands, the Scottish Conservatives said Police Scotland should get an additional £50 million to safeguard the roles of 750 officers.
That could be paid for through Barnett Consequentials, after the UK Government secured an extra £100 million through police spending south of the border.
Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said:
“Nicola Sturgeon clearly doesn’t want to give Police Scotland more money, and that has severe consequences for the force.
“It means officer numbers may have to be cut, the crumbling state of police stations stands no chance of improving, and vital equipment to keep officers safe will be denied.
“And there’s no excuse for this decision.
“The SNP government knows an extra £100 million is coming north thanks to Barnett Consequentials, yet still it persists with this measly budget settlement.
“The choice for the First Minister is clear – she either increases police funding or puts public safety at risk.”