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The gold standard – a world class education for every child

5 Jan 2016

The Scottish Conservatives are beginning the election year today by publishing a new paper on ways to improve state school education in Scotland.

The paper – entitled ‘The Gold Standard – a world class education for every child’ – sets out a series of new policies which will feed into the party’s 2016 election manifesto this year.

Writing in the introduction, party leader Ruth Davidson declares that the party’s aim is to ensure Scotland’s state schools are able “to compete with the best in the world “.

She writes: “We want to make your local school your school of choice – so that parents who currently feel the need to pay fees or move catchment area to secure a better start for their child, don’t have to. They know their local school is as good as any that requires direct or indirect financial outlay.”

The paper identifies three key areas where government could act immediately to improve standards – putting schools in charge, improving literacy and numeracy, and delivering greater transparency.

New policies in the paper include:

  • Handing control over budgets, recruitment and funding of the new Scottish attainment challenge directly to headteachers
  • “Buddying” the best and worst-performing schools to help spread best practice
  • Greater focus on literacy and numeracy, support for parents, and the creation of a new First Minister’s Reading Challenge
  • New standardised tests for pupils at P1, P4 and P7
  • Backing for a Save the Children campaign to ensure every child by the age of 11 can read well
  • A new independent inspectorate which is trusted by parents to set high standardsThe publication of the paper sets the party’s direction for the first few weeks of the election campaign, with Scottish voters making it clear that they view providing opportunities for the next generation as a key priority.

New policies on skills and childcare will also be rolled out over the coming weeks.

Today’s paper comes in the wake of several surveys in recent months which show there is clear room for improvement in the education sector.

The recent OECD report into Scottish education said there were “particular challenges” facing secondary schools, and noted how one in five of all schools are now ranked just as or below a “satisfactory” rating.

In her introduction, Ruth declares:

“I can’t be satisfied – nor should any modern Scottish Conservative be satisfied – with a school system until it meets the aspirations of all parents, no matter their background.

“In short, it is time for us to rise up against the bog-standard comprehensive, and work towards gold-standard schools in every village, town and city in Scotland.

“I don’t want the international experts to be using words like ‘good’, ‘average’ or ‘satisfactory’ when they are describing our schools in future. I want our schools to be ‘great’ and, as these studies show, there is currently room for substantial improvement.”

The paper can be found here.