Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today said SNP ministers “should be embarrassed” after it was revealed they still haven’t decided how to measure the attainment gap more than two years after the First Minister claimed closing it was their top priority.
A series of parliamentary questions has uncovered that the Scottish Government won’t announce how it is measuring the attainment gap until December 2017.
In response to questions from the Liberal Democrats on how it measures the attainment gap, the Education Secretary, John Swinney, said there are a “range of possible ways” and that initial discussions are now taking place on which specific measures will be used to measure progress.
Mr Scott commented:
“SNP ministers should be embarrassed. Two years after the First Minister made a keynote speech claiming closing the attainment gap between the most and least deprived students was her top priority, the government still doesn’t know how to measure the size of this chasm.
“SNP ministers have repeatedly told everyone to judge them on their record of closing the attainment gap. However, they scrapped the annual survey of literacy and numeracy after worsening results. Now they won't even tell us what measure they will use until Christmas. People will be suspicious that ministers will wait and see where progress is being made and then champion that measure over other less promising assessments.
“Today's revelation will worry parents and teachers. If the Scottish Government seriously believes it is making education a priority then I would hate to see how slowly they act when something is further down their to-do list.
“We are already paying the price of inaction from the SNP. Pupils returning to school have been greeted by hundreds of teaching vacancies. The number of super-size classes has soared. Thousands of teachers and support staff have been lost to Scottish education.
“It is time this SNP Government stopped dawdling, If they are serious about closing the attainment gap ministers would also make the transformational £500 million investment in our education system that Liberal Democrats have been demanding. Given the importance of teachers and support staff to making progress, ministers must also commission McCrone 2 – an independent root a branch review of teachers’ terms and conditions and the demands placed upon them.”