Extra support in every school classroom
Our investment in education will add to the resources in every classroom. Our plans to extend the professional freedoms of teachers will allow the curriculum to be enriched.
Our plan for a Pupil Premium will give every school £1400 for every primary school child from a poorer background and £900 for secondary. It will be paid directly to schools and used by teachers, based on their professional judgement.
The Pupil Premium will also be available for every looked-after child and the children of serving personnel in the armed forces.
A similar Pupil Premium in England closed the attainment gap in primary schools by 5% in three years. Valuable lessons can be learned from that experience.
Examples of the effective use of the Pupil Premium are additional support teachers, one-to-one tuition, extra equipment and homework clubs. All children in the class get the wider benefit.
We will stop the introduction of standardised national tests. These tests open the way to a return to the culture of teaching to the test and school league tables. The tests themselves would cost teachers valuable teaching time in administration and explaining the results to parents.
Teachers will benefit from the new professional freedoms to be enshrined in our Public Service Leadership and Empowerment Act.
By ending the threat of cuts to our schools and stopping the diversion of teachers onto national tests we can use the next five years to enhance school education for all children and close the attainment gap. We will:
- Bring innovation to the curriculum with a new initiative to commission Scottish universities to extend their massive open online courses (MOOCs) so that they can be used by schools. This will enrich the existing curriculum and offer a broad range of courses, including access to foreign languages and science teaching. This will give every school pupil the option to study a course which inspires them;
- Help schools develop links with local businesses, colleges and universities, echoing the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce which expressed concern that only one third of Scottish businesses have meaningful engagement with schools. This will add to the variety, depth and inspiration offered by the curriculum, especially for those young people at risk of disengagement from education;
- >Refresh the enterprise in education programme to help every pupil experience entrepreneurialism and creativity;
- Make sure there is time in the curriculum for good citizenship, including the basics of financial education, practical life skills such as first aid training and a strong commitment to diversity and anti-bullying, including a new initiative to tackle homophobic bullying;
- Give schools, working with parents, the freedom to develop specialisms;
- Allow local authorities to transform P1 in primary schools to a more informal learning environment. If they chose, this would, in effect, move the entry age to more formal education to six years old, in line with good practice across the world; children would remain in nursery-style provision gaining social skills and vocabulary for one year longer;
- Work with employers to assess the skills needed by each business sector and increase the delivery of industry-recognised vocational qualifications alongside academic qualifications to meet that need;
- Invest in language assistants and work with the British Council to increase the number of foreign language assistants available to work in Scottish schools;
- Support the taskforce formed by the seven North East, Highland and Island authorities on teacher recruitment;
- Review the number of supply teachers working in Scotland and take steps to improve their terms and conditions to increase numbers.