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Children taking fewer subjects in school under the SNP

Pupils in Scotland are on average taking fewer subjects at s4 level now than when the SNP’s Curriculum for Excellence was introduced, it has been revealed.

Research by the Scottish Conservatives has shown there are now 165 schools in Scotland where pupils take six subjects or less.

In 2013, that figure was only 46.

In contrast, the number of schools where pupils take seven or more has almost halved in that timeframe, from 308 to 182.

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the issue at First Minister’s Questions today.

But in response to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, she said discussing the issue was simply “talking down Scottish education”.

That follows education secretary John Swinney’s view that critics of the SNP’s performance on education were merely embarking on a “moan-fest”.

The statistics revealed today have also been backed by Professor Jim Scott, an expert on subject choice.

He said: “Just over 200 schools have declines, or significant declines, in the number of entries, where-as just over 50 demonstrate an increase.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“If we’re going to improve education in this country we need to accept the evidence.

“That evidence shows a child in s4 is, on average, taking fewer subjects than they would have done just a few years ago.

“But this exchange again proved this SNP government is simply unwilling to act.

“If both Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney don’t start listening, the education system under their control will continue to go downhill.

“This is the consequence of schools simply not having enough teachers or resources to deliver the world-class levels of education Scots deserve.

“Nicola Sturgeon should spend less effort trying to shoot the messenger, and more time acting on the evidence.”




Notes to editors:


To see the full list of the average number of subjects taken in schools since Curriculum for Excellence was introduced, visit:


The data covers all SQA qualifications taken in S4 – that includes National 4, National 5, Higher, National Certificates, Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications and National Progression Awards.

These figures are separate from the recent Reform Scotland study into subject choice in that they measure the qualifications TAKEN by S4 pupils in each of the last five years, not the qualifications that schools say are on offer in S4.


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