The SNP's School Shame Deepens

Recently we have seen the release of many education statistics.

Firstly we had the annual release of teacher numbers and class sizes.

These were followed this morning by headlines in every newspaper lambasting the SNP for their scandalous failure on education.

The Education Secretary, John Swinney latched on to one number which showed that there were more teachers in schools this year than last. Unfortunately for him, it was quickly pointed out that in secondary schools teacher numbers had fallen again, and we still have over 4000 fewer teachers than when the SNP came to power.

Moreover, pupil numbers increased too, so this year class sizes continued to rise. In fact, in primary schools class sizes are now bigger than they have ever been since the SNP were first elected in 2007, when they promised to cut them. Whatever happened to that promise?

John Swinney also published new data, by local authority and individual school on what percentage of pupils have achieved the expected standard in reading, numeracy, writing and "talking and listening".

These are new "experimental" statistics which came with a big health warning.

However, they were consistent with the damning verdict delivered last week by the international PISA attainment study. Almost 1 in 4 children leave primary school unable to read at the expected level, while in numeracy the figure is even worse, almost 1 in 3.

The statistics laid bare the attainment gap between children from the rishest families and the rest - and showed that the gap worsens as children progress through school.

Rather than apologise for the damage which ten years of the SNP has done to education, John Swinney is trying to pretend he is just the man we need to fix it. He has launched a blizzard of frameworks, plans and websites, including yet another "improvement plan" yesterday.

What he refuses to do though is promise to ensure that our schools have enough teachers with enough time, support staff and resources to do the job they are trained for.

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