Revealed: Officials told Swinney subject choice has been reduced under Curriculum for Excellence

5 Nov 2019

The Scottish Conservatives have revealed that Scottish Government officials told the Education Secretary, John Swinney seven months ago that subject choice had been reduced across the entire senior phase from S4 to S6.

In advance of their debate on subject choice in Holyrood today (Wednesday), the party has published a freedom of information response which shows Mr Swinney was informed in May that pupils were taking fewer subjects now than prior to the SNP’s curriculum changes.

However, after receiving the analysis, both the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney continued to insist that subject choice had not been reduced and the problems were only limited to S4.

Scottish Government officials wrote in internal briefings that “A range of data and information confirms that there are, on average, fewer subjects taken by pupils now than was the case prior to the introduction of CfE and the new qualifications.”

Civil servants said that on average, school leavers entered 10 subjects in 2012/13 but as of 2017/18, they only entered 8 subjects.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary said:

“This is conclusive proof that subject choice has been reduced across the entire senior phase from S4 to S6. 

“Scottish Government officials told John Swinney exactly what was going wrong in our schools but he has spent months ignoring the evidence and pretending that all is well. 

“Both Mr Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon have misled parliament by insisting that subject choice has not been reduced when their own civil servants told them the opposite. 

“This SNP government is clearly in denial. Ministers refuse to listen, even to their own civil servants, education experts and Holyrood’s education committee.

“The Scottish Conservatives have offered constructive solutions to fix the serious issues afflicting the curriculum and it is past time that the SNP listened and acted before the situation becomes any worse.”