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Sturgeon ditches commitment to close the attainment gap completely

Nicola Sturgeon today ditched her long-standing commitment to close the poverty-related attainment gap completely as her “embarrassing” education record came under fire.

Her admission came during First Minister’s Questions when Douglas Ross highlighted concerns that hundreds or even thousands of teacher jobs could be cut next year.

The Scottish Conservative leader raised reports this morning of a leaked document stating that Glasgow City Council are considering cutting 800 teaching posts. He added that SNP-run East Ayrshire Council is also considering cutting teachers and East Renfrewshire Council is contemplating “very serious” cuts to education.

Douglas Ross also criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s broken promise to close the attainment gap completely, which he said education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville had rubbished on Wednesday, when she told a committee: “that is exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to achieve – to get it to a point of zero”.

In response, Nicola Sturgeon would only confirm her government’s “commitment to substantially eliminate the poverty-related attainment gap”.

However, back in August 2015, Nicola Sturgeon said: “My aim, to put it very bluntly, is to close that attainment gap. Not by a bit, but to close that attainment gap completely.”

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “Nicola Sturgeon has just confirmed what her education secretary said 24 hours earlier – namely that the SNP Government has ditched the First Minister’s long-standing promise to close the attainment gap completely.

“That pledge was unequivocal back in 2015 but now it’s been dropped, and the First Minister and Shirley-Anne Somerville are desperately trying to reword it and deny they’ve broken a promise. It won’t wash, though.

“Everyone knows that Nicola Sturgeon’s key promise is never going to happen under this SNP Government.

“Her record on education is embarrassing. Her failures have left teachers frustrated, disappointed and angry.

“Hundreds, potentially even thousands, of teacher jobs may be cut because of Nicola Sturgeon’s budget choices and costly mistakes.

“Instead of providing Scottish schools with the support they need, the SNP Government has wasted taxpayers’ money on ferries that don’t float, a referendum campaign that Scotland doesn’t want, and pet projects that don’t achieve anything.


“Because of SNP mismanagement, teachers in schools across Scotland are on strike, which hurts young people’s opportunities and causes real problems for parents and families.

“After years of disrupted education from Covid, when the government was too quick to shut down schools and limit teaching time, pupils are once again getting a raw deal.

“Will education ever be Nicola Sturgeon’s number one priority?”



Nicola Sturgeon said that the attainment gap ‘must’ be closed. In August 2015 Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘My aim – to put it bluntly – is to close the attainment gap completely. It will not be done overnight – I accept that. But it must be done.’ (Prospect Magazine, 18 August 2015, link).