Nicola Sturgeon pledges '˜most ambitious plan ever'

Nicola Sturgeon will today seek to refresh her SNP government after more than a decade in power as she unveils the 'most ambitious plan ever' at Holyrood and MSPs returns after the summer recess.
Nicola Sturgeon to reveal most ambitious plan ever. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty ImagesNicola Sturgeon to reveal most ambitious plan ever. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon to reveal most ambitious plan ever. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The First Minister will put education will be at the heart of her Programme for Government this coming year, with a pledge to bring in laws that will hand new powers to head teachers and give them greater control over teaching.

A raft of measures aimed at re-positioning Scotland’s economy for a post-oil and gas world will also be set out by the SNP leader. An end to the controversial public sector pay cap has also been promised.

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“I’ll be presenting the most ambitious plan ever to be brought forward by this government,” Ms Sturgeon said ahead of today’s launch.

“I am proud that, ten years on, we are once again proving that Scotland is leading the way as a progressive nation.

“Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people remains a defining mission of this government.

“For changes that need legislation, we will bring forward an Education Governance Bill in 2018.

“Our priority is to ensure that teachers are given the confidence and the space to teach to the highest standards.

“We’ll give our head teachers new powers and make sure parents, families and communities play a bigger role in school life and in their children’s learning.”

Ms Sturgeon pledged in June that she would use the summer to devise “radical” policies and come back ready to refresh her government after more than a decade in power.

She will set out plans for 16 bills today, including five new ones, but not one for a second independence referendum which was shelved after heavy SNP losses in the recent UK election.

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The news comes amid growing criticism of falling education standards as Scotland has dropped down global league tables in key areas such as reading, maths and science.

One of the country’s foremost educationalists, Lindsay Paterson, launched a withering attack on the Curriculum for Excellence at the weekend which has brought about a controversial overhaul in classroom teaching.

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said yesterday: “Since Nicola Sturgeon promised education would be her number one priority two years ago, standards have declined. Parents and teachers won’t be sucked in by this pledge either.”

Labour interim leader Alex Rowley said: “The Scottish Parliament … has the ability and the flexibility to make real, radical changes to people’s lives.

“It should, frankly, be ­embarrassing for Nicola ­Sturgeon that two years after she promised education was her top priority, our teachers are at breaking point and we are sliding down the ­educational international league tables.”