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ELECTION 2021: SNP 'have let our bairns down' in education

By Alan Beresford

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EDUCATION is perhaps the SNP’s greatest failure, among a very long list, says Banffshire and Buchan Coast Conservative candidate Mark Findlater.

Conservative Banffshire and Buchan Coast candidate Mark Findlater.
Conservative Banffshire and Buchan Coast candidate Mark Findlater.

Not too long ago, Scotland’s classrooms were the envy of the world.

Today, 29 per cent of primary school children in Aberdeenshire can’t read or write to the expected level – 35 per cent in Moray.

And after 14 years in charge, the SNP haven’t cut class sizes for P1-3. Last year, 90 per cent of Moray pupils weren’t in classes of 18 or fewer, and 80 per cent in Aberdeenshire, despite SNP election pledges to make that 0 per cent in 2007. These figures are even greater in some parts of Scotland, where two in five young adults leave school without a single Higher.

It doesn’t please me to say it, but our bairns have been let down.

For too long, their futures have been disregarded as secondary to the SNP’s grand obsession.

They can learn made-up Scottish history that Sir Tom Devine described as “dangerous propaganda”. Just don’t expect the young ones to have a decent grounding in English, maths or the sciences.

Not that we are able to find out how Scotland is doing, because the SNP withdrew from the international PISA, Timms and PIRLS performance benchmarks.

And the OECD report into our education system was delayed by John Swinney until after the election.

When the schools shut in the pandemic, laptops meant for less well-off families stayed in a cupboard until it was almost time to return.

And it was only due to Scottish Conservative pressure that John Swinney reversed gear and stopped Higher pupils from being unfairly judged on exams they never sat.

It is that record of strong opposition that we want to continue after May 6.

Under our plan to boost schools, we would restore teacher numbers across Scotland by recruiting 3,000 more teachers, including 154 in Aberdeenshire and 50 in Moray, and get every primary school child access to a free school breakfast and lunch.

In 2015, Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to be “judged” solely on education, but has failed to deliver on a host of promises.

On May 6 we have an opportunity to stop an SNP majority and gain a Scottish Parliament that’s 100 per cent focused on what matters most to Scots – education being at the head of the class. We’ll only stop that majority by voting Scottish Conservative on the peach party list ballot and returning MSPs who will hold the government to account, instead of wasting precious time on a second independence referendum.

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