Tories call for more diversity in Scottish schools

Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said that not all children learn the same and they should not all be taught the same. Picture: JANE BARLOW

Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said that not all children learn the same and they should not all be taught the same. Picture: JANE BARLOW

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CONSERVATIVES will today call for urgent action to tackle the attainment gap between children from rich and poor backgrounds.

Pupils in some deprived areas are twenty times less likely to achieve three As at Higher Grade, according to research by the party.

The party will use a debate at Holyrood to press for greater diversity in Scottish schools and for parents to be given more of a say in their child’s education.

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Tories argue that different educational models from around the world should be looked at, such as the boards of trustees appointed by parents in New Zealand, charter schools in the US, where the state issues a licence to a provider who operates a school, and free schools in Sweden.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Not all children learn the same and they should not all be taught the same.”

Her motion for debate also calls for “full autonomy for headteachers and a renewed emphasis on improving basic skills in literacy and numeracy”.

It follows a Scottish Government report in April that concluded that in P4 and P7 there were “statistically significantly lower levels of attainment in 2013 compared to 2011”.

Ms Smith said: “Scotland should be a country where every child has the same chance of a good education.

“But the reality is that it still matters whether you are rich or poor, with a pupil’s chances of gaining good grades dependent on their postcode.

“Too many schools are failing too many of our children and that has to change.

“The time has come for radical action to get rid of the ‘one size fits all’ approach we have in schools and start offering parents - and pupils - a real choice.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland’s schools compare strongly when measured against international standards and the Curriculum for Excellence continues to deliver improved outcomes using evidence-based approaches to raising attainment - including a focus on strong leadership, high-quality learning and teaching, literacy, numeracy and parental engagement.

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“We also have a record high number of school leavers in positive destinations, more new or refurbished schools and earlier this year ONS revealed Scotland to be the most highly-educated country in Europe.

“Ministers consider that the greatest challenge facing Scottish education is the impact of poverty and inequality on pupils’ ability to learn - serious issues that do not start at the school gate and which are, in part, impacted by policies of the UK Government.

“Nonetheless, the Scottish Governments remains determined to work with partners to continue tackling the implications of that inequality, including reducing the attainment gap and helping give every young person the best start in life.”

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