Raising the standard

Scotland's education

Key pledges

The challenge

Education is the key to Scotland's future

Without high quality education, Scotland will not be able to compete in a world economy, which depends more and more on knowledge and skills. Liberal Democrats want a society in which there is opportunity for everybody to develop their talents to the full throughout their lives. But if we are to succeed in restoring our education system to world class levels, we must recognise how much there is to do.

Too many Scottish schoolchildren have to learn in cramped and crumbling classrooms from tatty, outdated textbooks which they have to share with others. They do not have the facilities which they deserve for science, computing or sport. Worst of all, they do not have enough teachers, and those they do have are undervalued.

Under successive governments, Scotland's education has been underfunded, and undermined by a bewildering succession of reforms and contradictory shifts in policy. With a new Parliament, it is time for a fresh start. Liberal Democrats want Scotland's education system to be among the best in the world. Furthermore, we are honest enough to admit that we cannot achieve our aims without raising and spending more money.

In making education our first priority, we are determined to tackle the problems which have held Scotland's teachers and schools back for so long. These include:

Our priorities

It will take time to achieve all our ambitions for Scottish education. We propose three key measures which will nonetheless make a huge difference.

We will:

Our ambitions for education

Making the right start

The first years of school are the most important of all. The only way to ensure genuine equality of opportunity for all Scotland's children is to guarantee high quality education for infants throughout the country.

We will:

Higher standards in schools

Liberal Democrats believe that the more diversity there is in Scotland's schools, the more their overall quality will improve. Raising standards in education does not mean imposing a rigid uniform system of teaching from the centre.

We will:

Valuing teachers

Teacher morale in Scotland has suffered enormously under successive governments over the last twenty years. In other countries teachers are highly regarded, well-paid professionals. The success of the new Scotland will depend heavily on the quality of its teachers.

We will:

Sport and physical education

There are too few Scots who are as fit as they should be. Sport and fitness, particularly for the young, are an important way of developing the full potential of our people, creating more worthwhile leisure activities for young people, reducing social alienation and promoting good healthy lifestyles.

We will:

Community education

Further Education should be open to all, whether it is part-time or full-time.

We will:

Higher and further education opportunities

Scotland's economic future will depend on its ability to sustain a highly skilled and flexible workforce. The new Scotland needs to build on its proud traditions in university education and develop a system in which lifelong learning is available to all.

We will:

Planning to be World Class

In the past, too many Governments have tinkered around with the structures of education. They usually succeeded only in increasing the bureaucracy and demoralising the teaching profession. Liberal Democrats believe that the structure of Scotland's education system does not require yet more fundamental change. At the same time there are steps which could be taken to make the administration more efficient and accountable.

We will:

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