Scottish Liberal Democrats will today lead the first ever debate at the Scottish Parliament on raising the starting age for formal schooling - a policy that will be included in the party's manifesto for the elections in May.
Willie Rennie first announced in 2018 that Scottish Liberal Democrats would work with Upstart Scotland to develop plans to transform how children learn in what is currently P1 and P2.
It is part of the party’s long-term plan to make Scottish education the best again. It follows on from Willie Rennie setting out at the weekend steps that Scottish Liberal Democrats would take in time for August to help education bounce back, including guaranteeing a job for every trained teacher to cut class sizes and provide more support.
Ahead of the debate, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:
“Raising the starting age for formal schooling is an important part of our plans for the next Parliament to make Scottish education the best again.
“This afternoon we will thank the campaigners at Upstart Scotland for all their work and set out our own commitment to making education truly play-based until the age of 7. It will still be mandatory but it will focus on child development, social skills, outdoor learning, and physical and mental health.
"Countries excelling in education and equity show that this approach better prepares children to shine in literacy and numeracy. They might start a bit later but they quickly surge past us. By learning together through play children develop the critical skills needed for better long-term development and outcomes. I want Scotland’s children to get the same long-term benefits.
"The best way to close the attainment gap is not to open it in the first place.
"The Victorians didn't give us the best way to start school. Now we have the SNP conducting national testing of four and five-year-olds against the will of Parliament.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will always be the party of education. It’s time for a historic change to give our children the best start in life.”