Angela Constance defends spending on Scottish education

Aug 18, 2015 by

Scotland’s Education Secretary Angela Constance has defended how much her government was spending on schools ahead of a keynote speech by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She told the BBC’s Today programme that “despite austerity” there had been a 3% rise in spending.

Ms Sturgeon is due to outline plans to improve attainment levels of pupils.

Scottish Labour said there needed to be “bold changes” to improve education for the poorest children.

Speaking to broadcaster Jim Naughtie on Today, Ms Constance said: “We do know that the Scottish government, like local government, like every family in Scotland, has faced significant financial pressure as a result of austerity.

“But the most recent figures show that local authorities have increased spending by 3%.”

The minister also defended teacher numbers in Scotland which have fallen by 4,000 since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Ms Constance recognised the drop but said since 2011 the numbers had stabilised.

Later Ms Sturgeon is due to tell a gathering at Wester Hailes Education Centre that the past eight years “had been tough” and had “created pressures” for the Scottish government, for local government “and for many families”.

But she will insist that Scotland has “made progress”.

Counting skills

Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: “The introduction of curriculum for excellence has been a major step forward – and one which is attracting international attention. It gives teachers more flexibility, provides a broader education for young people, and sets higher standards for achievement than ever before.

“Five hundred and twenty schools have been rebuilt or refurbished since 2007. That’s more than 1/5 of the school premises in the country; and it’s 200 more than in the previous eight years.

“We’ve provided funding to maintain teacher numbers. In 2006, more than 15,000 primary one children were in classes of more than 25. Now, the figure is below 500.”

However, Labour’s Iain Gray said that despite eight years of an SNP government the “reality is” that pupils from richer backgrounds still performed “much better” than those from deprived areas.

He added: “It’s just not right that three quarters of S2 pupils from the poorest backgrounds don’t have the counting skills they need.

“A child starting high school this week will have spent every year of their education under the SNP government.

“Instead of yet another speech from the first minister, it’s time the SNP government actually did something to close the gap between rich and poor in Scotland’s schools.”

Source: Angela Constance defends spending on Scottish education – BBC News

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