Education and training
Scotland's education system is not in as much difficulty as some would have you believe – but that does not mean it is what it should be. Scotland produced what was genuinely a powerful and forward-looking model in Curriculum for Excellence, and then messed it up by weighing it down with paperwork.
A big part of Curriculum for Excellence was about trusting Scotland's teachers as professionals who would drive our education system, but in reality they are too often treated as employees who need to be managed and monitored. We must set teachers free to teach, and to do that we must trust them and reward them fairly. Highly motivated teachers are the best resource in our schools.
Things have moved on in the years since Curriculum for Excellence was established and we need to learn from the experiences since, introducing new ideas where they make sense and fixing problems and inequalities where we find them. This is even more important after the disruption the pandemic has caused the education of Scotland's children. And, of course, training as well as education is going to be crucial in the post-COVID-19 era.
As with health, at every stage in our life, our performance is shaped by the conditions in which we were born and brought up, with poverty at the root of economic, health and educational attainment.
We will never have the education system we deserve without making poverty reduction a priority. Poverty is the enemy of education.
Scotland's future lies in the skills and knowledge of its people.
- A package of measures to help pupils and teachers recover from the disruption of the pandemic, with extra Support for Learning, and Behaviour Support, teacher hours for every school, and extra mental health support available where needed. To achieve this, we can make use of our well qualified graduates whose skills are needed in the post pandemic recovery period.
- Policy which trusts teachers by creating a 'bonfire of paperwork' so teachers can teach and not be worn down with bureaucracy.
- A national mission to get Scottish education back up the international league table as a priority – by learning from the nations which are now ahead of us and implementing the lessons here. This means a review of what Scotland must learn from other nations and a commitment to change how things are done if the evidence suggests it, including with Curriculum for Excellence.
- Making sure Scottish education is again about breadth of education and not just exam pass rates, reversing the narrowing of the curriculum choices in Scotland's schools.
- Taking IT literacy much more seriously by implementing the findings of the Logan Review.
- Looking at the evidence for a later school starting age with extended kindergarten phase based on play, exploration and relationship-building.
- Returning to a system of detailed surveys of schools to be better able to understand what is, and is not, working.
- Recognising the issues of poverty in schools by ensuring that the pledge on providing laptops and tablets is delivered, and providing free breakfasts and lunches for children all year round, with the focus on healthy Scottish produce.
- As they are at the heart of all of this, undertaking a teacher's pay and conditions review.
- Restoring Scotland's historic belief in vocational education by implementing the extensive package of measures for training, development and apprenticeships outlined above.
- Supporting lecturers in colleges and safeguarding the role of the lecturer. Students deserve fully qualified lecturing staff, to get the most from their further education experience.
- Scotland’s college and university sector is outstanding in international terms, but still more must be done to ensure access to all those with talent and ability, and at all stages in their career and lives.
- The rocks will melt with the sun before ALBA will allow tuition fees to be reimposed on Scotland’s students, but access depends on support, hence ALBA proposals on educational maintenance.
- ALBA also supports a rapid transformational expansion of the proposal from the Scottish Investment Bank to offer capital support for companies emerging from universities and colleges.
- Scotland’s prosperity depends on harnessing the continuing inventiveness of the people and turning this into business opportunities, jobs and prosperity based in Scotland.