Ruth Davidson: Parents ‘left in dark’ over school performance

Ruth Davidson raised Scotland's education system at FMQs
Ruth Davidson raised Scotland's education system at FMQs
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Parents are “left in the dark” when it comes to school performance with only a handful of secondaries making information on attainment and curriculum readily available, it has been claimed.

At First Minister's Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson quoted new research suggesting just seven per cent of schools in Scotland abide by regulations governing what information they are required to make public.

Ms Davidson said research by Professor Jim Scott of Dundee University will next week reveal how many schools comply with the Education (Schools and Placing Information) regulations introduced by SNP ministers six years ago.

The regulations state information should be accessible on a host of matters including the subjects available to pupils and the performance of the school at local and national level.

Ms Davidson said Professor Scott's analysis would show only seven per cent of schools make information on curriculum and attainment readily available while 20 per cent do not meet any of the requirements outlined in the regulations.

Read more: Scots primary one pupils left crying by `cruel’ national testing

“Schools should, according to this government's own rules, give parents clear data on the curriculum and on performance,” Ms Davidson said.

"That's so parents can find out about the school they are entrusting their children with or, where appropriate, make an informed decision about which school to choose.

"Yet, according to Professor Scott, six years on the parent who wishes to make an informed choice of school has relatively little chance of doing so when more than nine out of ten schools fail to publish the information this parliament requires of them."

Ms Sturgeon insisted while there was a "wide range of information available to parents about the performance of schools", ministers wanted to do more, adding "that is why we have introduced standardised assessments to replace the assessments that were previously under way by local authorities"

The First Minister revealed that the Tories were going to bring forward a Holyrood motion next week for the abolition of primary one testing.

Read more: Scots P1 tests to be overhauled but not axed

She said Ms Davidson was guilty of “breath-taking hypocrisy” as she quoted from the Tory 2016 Holyrood election manifesto, which welcomed the reintroduction of national testing in primary schools.

"What we see from the Conservatives is that they are shameless opportunists, they do not care,” Ms Sturgeon said.

"They care only about the short-term political opportunity, they care not a jot about the school children, they care not a jot about standards in our schools, I think Ruth Davidson has revealed that yet again today."

The SNP leader said: "I want to see parents have more information about the performance of their children, that is why we have standardised the assessments that were previously in place, including at P1, in order that we are ensuring that teachers know whether young people are meeting the benchmarks set by Curriculum for Excellence."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who raised the same issue at First Minister's Questions, accused Ms Sturgeon of refusing to listen to teachers and the teaching union the EIS on the issue of P1 testing.