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Highland MSP Douglas Ross slams SNP for a 'shameful' decline in Scottish education

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland MSP Douglas Ross slams SNP for a 'shameful' decline in Scottish education.
Highland MSP Douglas Ross slams SNP for a 'shameful' decline in Scottish education.

Highland MSP Douglas Ross has slammed the SNP-Green government for continuing to preside over a “shameful” decline in Scottish education after the latest international rankings were revealed.

The criticism comes following the publication of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report which measures standards among nearly 700,000 pupils worldwide.

The findings for 2022 show that Scotland’s score in maths and science are at their worst ever levels, having fallen in every PISA survey, while the reading performance was higher than the OECD average it too dropped compared to 2018.

Scotland’s performance was “significantly worse” than England’s though it was better in some regards to Wales and Northern Ireland but Mr Ross argued the findings are a “damning indictment” of the SNP’s “mismanagement” of the education system.

He added that the performance among Scottish pupils “flies in the face” of Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that education was her – and the SNP Government’s top priority and it is time to take responsibility for their “abject failures.”

Mr Ross said: “The PISA findings are a damning indictment of the SNP’s mismanagement of Scotland’s education system during their 16 years in power.

“Our education system was once world-renowned but on the SNP’s watch, scores in subjects like maths and science have plummeted.

“The fact that maths and science scores are now at their lowest ever level is shameful. The SNP are letting down pupils across Moray and we know from their failure to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap in our schools, it is pupils from the poorest backgrounds who will be suffering the most.

“That flies in the face of Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that education would be her number one priority. These findings are part of her shocking legacy from her time as First Minister, that is being continued by Humza Yousaf.

“The SNP’s record on education is one of abject failure and they continue to let down pupils, parents and staff in Moray and across Scotland at every turn. They have nobody to blame but themselves and must take full responsibility for their abysmal record on this issue that has let down so many young people over the years.

"If they don’t wake up to this issue and change things, more pupils in Moray and across Scotland will pay the price.”

But the SNP’s education secretary Jenny Gilruth disagreed and blamed Covid for the falling numbers, claiming similar falls can be seen in different countries.

She said: “As is well understood, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our young people and their experience of learning and teaching. PISA demonstrates this impact across the majority of countries participating.

“Whilst every country in the UK has seen a reduction in its PISA scores across maths and reading between 2018 and 2022, there will be key learning for the Scottish Government and COSLA to address jointly in responding.

“Since PISA was conducted, wider evidence from both the 2023 national qualification results and the most recent literacy and numeracy data for primary, show clear evidence of an ongoing recovery which we are determined to build on.

“Our participation in PISA provides valuable information to support educational improvement; that will be further strengthened by our decision earlier this year to re-join the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLs) studies.

“I will provide parliament with a full update next week, reflecting on both PISA and the 2023 national literacy and numeracy data, which is based on teacher judgement.”

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