The Scottish Conservatives have threatened to withdraw their support from the Scottish Government’s flagship education reform after Scotland recorded its worst ever performance in a global education study.
Ruth Davidson said the Government’s Curriculum for Excellence reform was “on probation” and called for an evaluation of the policy to judge its effectiveness.
The long-standing Curriculum for Excellence policy was drawn up in an attempt to deliver a more practical approach to education, but teachers have grown frustrated with the workload and the bureaucracy associated with it.
At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Davidson drew attention to this week’s PISA results which showed that standards in Scotland’s classrooms were slipping in the key subjects of maths, reading and science.
The PISA survey of `15-year-olds in OECD countries showed that between 2012 and 2015 Scottish teenagers had fallen from being above average in reading and science to just “average” in both. The ability at maths had remained average.
Ms Davidson said: The single biggest education reform under this Government has been Curriculum for Excellence and nobody here can simply brush aside the fact that since it has come in standards have fallen. So I am telling the First Minister today that our on-going support for Curriculum for Excellence cannot be taken for granted.
I believe this entire project should be put on probation and there is a simple question I ask and I ask it in all sincerity – if standards are going down because of it why are we sticking by it?”
Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying the principles behind Curriculum for Excellence was the “right way forward”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The principles behind the Curriculum for Excellence are absolutely right. There is unanimous agreement in the parliament that it is the right way as there is within the teaching professions and we have to accept this is something that can work.
These not my words, but the words of Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith on the seventh of December.”
Earlier the First Minister admitted the PISA results were “not good enough”.
She said: “If anyone thinks I am going to stand here today and make any excuses they are wrong. There are lots of other evidence I could cite about Scottish education but I am not going to do that because the results of the PISA survey earlier today are not where I want us to be. They are not good enough. I am determined we take the action that will lead to improvement.”