Johnstone says ministers must be challenged

Tuesday August 18th 2015

Alison Johnstone MSP, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, responded to today’s speech on education by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by urging the Scottish Goverment to reverse cuts to college places and increase spending on primary pupils.

Figures compiled by the Scottish Greens show:

  • Classroom sizes (pupil-teacher ratio) have gone up since 2007 from 15.7 to 16.7.
  • The number of college places has fallen by 156,000 since 2007.
  • Spending per pupil in primary schools has remained flat, resulting in a real terms cut.

In recent months Alison Johnstone has highlighted the need for:

  • More support for pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN), as they have less chance of achieving a positive school-leaver destination such as further education or employment. ASN disproportionally affects those children from lower income families and areas of deprivation.
  • More support for teachers, many of whom work 11 hours per week beyond their contractual commitment. Much needs to be done to reduce excessive workloads.
  • More support for college students from the most deprived backgrounds, as around 35 per cent do not successfully complete courses.
  • Greater effort to address severe gender imbalance in further education sectors such as the care profession (73 per cent female), engineering (92 per cent male) and construction (89 per cent male).

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“Closing the attainment gap is of course important but pupils need confidence that they can continue their journey beyond school. Further Education is not in a good shape, and Scottish ministers must be challenged on their decision to cut back so brutally in this sector.

“In our schools spending per pupil has been flat for years, and classroom sizes are gradually going up. This isn’t sustainable. When parliament returns in September I hope the First Minister will listen to the wide range of voices urging her to prioritise our education system.”

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