Anger over delay to flagship review of Scottish education

A flagship review of Scottish education has been put on hold - prompting opposition claims that John Swinney is using the the COVID-19 outbreak for "political expediency."

John Swinney has announced delay to education review

The Education Secretary announced today that the outbreak means the report by the OECD won't come out until after next year's Holyrood election.

It was originally due to be published in early 2021, but this has been put back until the middle of the year.

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"The Covid-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges for our education system," Mr Swinney said in a written Holyrood answer today.

He insisted that he remains "committed" to the review which has already been extended to the entire classroom teaching system, after initially being focused on the senior phase.

But he added: "It is critical that we do not make any additional demands on the system at this time.

"Therefore, following discussions with national partners and the OECD, we have agreed to postpone engagement with policy stakeholders until September and engagement with practitioners and learners until October 2020.

"This approach would see publication of the final report in June 2021."

The Government ordered the extended review after losing a vote in Holyrood, amid particular concerns over subject choice in the senior phase of school, as well as the wider impact of Curriculum for Excellence after a fall in attainment in some Higher subjects.

It covers the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase and the articulation between the two.

Tory Education spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Whilst we accept that the Covid crisis has made assessment visits and stakeholder events more difficult, such a lengthy delay is completely unnecessary.

“The Scottish Conservatives pushed for this comprehensive review into the curriculum because of declining highers results and narrowing subject choice.

“Scottish education used to be the envy of the world but under the SNP we have been slipping down the league tables – the SNP government should be pulling out all the stops to find out why.

“Delaying this report until days after next year’s Holyrood election seems far more to do with political expediency than Covid-19."

“Tackling Covid-19 is everyone’s top priority, but there is simply no need for such a lengthy delay to this report - it must be published before May 2021.”

Labour's Iain Gray voiced disappointment over the delay, but admitted the Government had little choice.

"The delay to this critical curriculum review, kicking it beyond the next election is inevitable but disappointing," he added.

“Our schools went into the current crisis facing some significant problems such as the narrowing curriculum, falling pass rates and the systematic use of multilevel teaching."

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