can we give children the best start in life?
The SNP regards education both as a means of investment in Scotland’s
future and a way of preparing our young people for the modern
world. To ensure we focus on these objectives we will create
a single department of Children & Education, covering all
stages of the lifelong educational continuum.
We will use the current powers of the Scottish Parliament
to build a better framework for Scotland’s schools.
And with Independence, will ensure education benefits from
increased national wealth, with a programme of additional
An SNP administration will give children room to learn and
teachers space to teach. We will build on the traditional
strengths of the Scottish education system by learning and
applying the lessons of the most successful initiatives at
home and worldwide.
Stability and harmony in our schools
An SNP administration will honour the McCrone agreement on
teachers' pay and conditions in full and in a way that guarantees
the period of stability and co-operation that the agreement
was meant to achieve.
We will also address the problems of indiscipline and truancy
in schools, which have such a detrimental effect on both teachers
and pupils, by developing a rights and responsibilities code
to instil a sense of personal responsibility in our young
We will adopt a culture of zero tolerance towards violence
in the classroom, coupled with a strategy to change behaviour
that will include expanding alternative curricula, along with
the use of temporary exclusion to centres where behaviour
change is an integral part of the learning process. Early
intervention is a proven route to reducing indiscipline and
truancy and this, coupled with the positive effect of smaller
class sizes, will be a key factor in achieving higher standards
of behaviour and attainment.
The mechanisms used to assess school pupils have become too
complicated, placing excessive pressure on pupils, teachers
and administrators. We will undertake a comprehensive review
of the 5-14 curriculum guidelines, with new emphasis on the
basic skills. At all stages we will lift the burden of unnecessary
and over complex assessment. And we will work with the Scottish
Qualifications Authority, schools and colleges to develop
a simplified examination system whose outcomes are clear,
easily understood and obviously demonstrate to employers and
the students themselves, the levels of achievement gained.
We reject the concept of school league tables but we will
make the provision of performance information from schools
to parents more comprehensive, accessible and understandable.
We will initiate a major consultation on extending pupil choice
by allowing young people who wish to and who have their parents’
permission, to utilise college opportunities for vocational
education in S3 and S4, while remaining under the general
supervision of their school. This initiative would help build
up the high skills base we need to compete as a modern economy,
as well as enabling all our young people to access subjects
and facilities which engage their interest.
We will also ensure that Scottish History, Literature, and
Languages are taught in our schools, giving a window on the
world which is relevant to our young people and will help
them compete in the 21st century world.
We will continue to support Catholic schools recognising the
contribution they make to meeting educational needs in Scotland
and for so long as parents wish to send their children to
them. We will secure the future of the special educational
needs schools, which have had so much insecurity in recent
years, and will continue to encourage mainstream education
for all young people, providing it is appropriate, achievable
and well supported in meeting the needs of the child. We will
guarantee in law the right to a Gaelic medium education at
primary level, where demand exists, and will continue to support
community schools. We will ensure that adequate provision
is made for the distinctive needs and interests of ethnic
minorities in our education system.
The SNP is committed to further extending devolved school
management, while recognising that some budgets are best controlled
at local authority level, as the most cost effective and efficient
way of spending precious educational resources.
Extending involvement in decision making
The SNP does not believe that politicians should have exclusive
ownership of education policy. That is why we re-affirm our
commitment to establishing an Education Convention consisting
of representatives of teachers, parents, pupils, employers
and wider civic Scotland.