A strong Scottish Conservative opposition will insist the SNP keeps to its promise to end Scotland's "one size fits all" education system.
Speaking today at a visit to a nursery, Ruth Davidson said she welcomed proposals in the SNP manifesto aimed at empowering schools – a key Scottish Conservative commitment.
She said the Scottish Conservatives would make it a key aim to ensure a future SNP administration held to their promise – and were not allowed to kick much-needed reforms into the long grass.
Failures over the last nine years, under the SNP, have seen falling literacy and numeracy standards, a widening attainment gap, and cuts to Further Education.
The Scottish Conservatives are now calling for:
* more flexible childcare, including more hours for vulnerable one year olds
* schools to be given more freedom; in or out of local authority control
* extra funding for Further Education Colleges to reverse the SNP's cuts
* re-entry into international league tables to improve accountability
* the introduction of a Teach First programme to attract the best graduates into teaching
Ruth said: "We have seen what happens when the SNP does nothing: over the last nine years, standards have declined and the attainment gap is widening. They were too busy focusing on their referendum, not on driving improvement in schools.
"We welcome the fact the SNP now agrees with us that one size must not fit all. We have been calling for headteachers to get more control and for school management to be devolved – and it is good to see the SNP now moving on that too.
"There will be resistance to these proposals however – and the history of this SNP government is that they prefer to kick a challenge into the long grass rather than tackle it head on.
"As a strong opposition, we will not allow them to do that. We will hold them to their words and insist that progress is made to make our schools world class once more."
Notes to editors:
The local community – especially parents and teachers – should be key decision makers in the life of a school. We recognise that not all children are the same – and so our education system should not follow a 'one size fits all' model. We will ensure strong national standards but also empower local schools. We will extend to individual schools responsibilities that currently sit solely with local authorities, allocate more resources directly to headteachers and enable them to take decisions based on local circumstances. We will encourage school clusters and create new educational regions to decentralise management and support. International evidence shows that when parents and communities are more involved and engaged with schools, children's attainment improves. So we will review school governance with a view to ensuring that parents, families and communities play a bigger role in their children's education and in the life of their children's school. The National Improvement Framework will support schools with more consistent and reliable information at local, regional and national level and introducing standardised assessment from 2017 will help parents and teachers chart children's progress at P1, P4, P7 and S3. A new National Standards and Evaluation Framework will make clear what every school and local authority is expected to deliver to raise attainment and offer guidance on how they can measure their own activity. We will also ensure that school inspections are more focused and frequent.