Tories call for ‘root and branch’ review of Scottish education

The Scottish Tories attacked SNPs handling of system over the past decade. Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Tories attacked SNPs handling of system over the past decade. Picture: John Devlin

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A “root and branch” review of classroom teaching in Scotland is to be undertaken by the Conservatives amid growing concerns over a decline in the country’s education system in recent years.

The controversial Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has been a source of growing political concerns and Tory leader Ruth Davidson will today pledge: “We can change this.”

The party insist they will stop short of scrapping the system, but insist the SNP’s record of decline in Scotland’s schools is a “mark of shame”.

Scots pupils have been floundering in the international Pisa league tables, while a report for the Sutton Trust education charity recently warned there are no areas where children in Scotland “really excel”.

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that education is her priority in office, but Ms Davidson will say today that the SNP’s record over the past decade is a “mark of shame”.

The Curriculum for Excellence was introduced in 2010 with the aim of making learning more reflective of real life experience, with a focus more on broader learning rather than pupils logging facts.

But it has been mired in controversy amid complaints from many teachers that they were confused by the system.

Ms Davidson will slam the SNP’s education record at her party’s spring conference in Glasgow later today.

She will say: “What an absolute disgrace. What a mark of shame.

“This SNP government’s handling of our education system over the last decade in power has been shameful – and change needs to happen.”

The OECD carried out a full review of Scottish education and, while agreeing with the general principles and direction of CfE, also suggested implementation has been incomplete. Excessive bureaucracy has been at the heart of concerns, teachers also recently complaining of being swamped by thousands of pages of guidance to accompany the curriculum’s exams.

Ms Davidson will say that the problems are not the fault of teachers.

“The blame lies with a school system that, thanks to this SNP government, simply isn’t working,” she will say.

“Here’s the thing though: we can change this. So today, I can announce we are going to undertake a root-and-branch review of one part of the system that is failing – and that is Curriculum for Excellence.

“Here’s what we’re not going to do – teachers tell us they don’t want yet another top-down reform, so we don’t propose scrapping it altogether.

“But we do have to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy which has led to this collapse in standards which thinks of facts and knowledge as of secondary importance, which puts the latest fashionable theory before the basic need to teach and which has left a generation of teachers, parents and pupils utterly confused about what is going on, or what Curriculum for Excellence even is.”

The review will be led by Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith and report later this year.

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