Leader comment: Education standards an unfolding scandal

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement on her IndyRef2 plans in the autumn. Picture: Getty
Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement on her IndyRef2 plans in the autumn. Picture: Getty
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Nicola Sturgeon asked us to judge her on results – these just show that she has been found wanting

For those weary of incessant squabbling over the constitution, this came as very good news. For too long, the notion that a Scottish education was the best in the world had gone unchallenged when the reality was that standards in numeracy and literacy were plummeting.

When Ms Sturgeon asked that she be judged on her handling of education, it seemed clear she recognised the severity of the problems.

New figures showing ­education spending has fallen by £400million since 2010 suggest that the First Minister’s mission is to solve a ­problem made worse by her own Government.

Ultimately, decisions on where money is spent in schools are taken by local authorities but budget cuts and council tax freezes have had a colossal negative impact.

It is all well and good for the First Minister to proclaim her commitment to driving up standards in schools but while she and her ­government continue to starve the sector of funds, progress will be slow.

Teacher numbers have fallen to such an extent that some schools no longer offer certain courses. ­Scottish pupils lag behind their counterparts in many other countries when it comes to the most rudimentary word and number skills.

Responses of the “it’s someone else’s fault” variety from both local authorities and the Scottish ­Government are no comfort to ­parents and pupils.

Politicians of all mainstream parties are keen to establish themselves as the true champions of Scottish education but we are bound to say that debate on this most important of issues rarely rises above the level of cheap point-scoring.

There are politicians across the spectrum whose commitment to driving up standards in education is genuine. Is it really too much to hope that these political foes might be able to work together?

Scotland’s schools truly were once among the finest in the world but those days are long gone and the change of direction required to correct this downward trajectory remains to take place.

A good education is the bedrock of a successful and prosperous life. That Scottish children can no longer be guaranteed to receive one should be considered a national scandal.