Argyll and Bute education chief attacks Scottish Government on school standards

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly and Donald Cameron MSP.
Councillor Yvonne McNeilly and Donald Cameron MSP.

Argyll and Bute Council’s policy lead for education has said that parents are being left in the dark over school standards by the SNP Government’s policies.

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly’s comments follow the decision by the Government to cancel the surveys which previously analysed the mathematics ability of youngsters.

A report of the Education Committee of the Scottish Parliament has warned there will be a five-year gap in data in relation to the numeracy skills of Scotland’s pupils.

Cllr McNeilly said: “The STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are critically important for the future of our young people and the future of the economy of our country. They all depend on a grasp of maths. And yet the SNP are not allowing us to scrutinise how well our education system is performing with regard to this subject.

“If you are the parent of a seven-year-old now, you’re not going to know until your child is a teenager whether or not this country is getting any better at teaching maths.

“Nicola Sturgeon seems to fear that if we switch the lights on we will be horrified by what we see.”

Her warnings have been backed by Highland and Islands Scottish Conservatives List MSP Donald Cameron, who also attacked the SNP.

He said: “Everyone knows that the worst of the SNP’s policy failures in their 12 years in government has been education.

“International studies showed that, compared to other European countries, our results have declined drastically.

“Of course, the SNP then cancelled our participation in these studies when they realised how bad they looked.

“And now they are drawing a veil over the mathematics ability of our youngsters because performance in maths is relatively easy to measure compared to some other subjects.”

“If SNP ministers spent less time agitating about a second independence referendum, and more time governing on behalf of the people they are supposed to be serving, our education system might be in a better place by now.”

However, a Scottish Government spokesperson questioned why Cllr McNeilly did not raise the issue during a meeting on Monday with Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for education John Swinney.

“Cllr McNeilly met the Deputy First Minister John Swinney (pictured above) this morning (Monday) but did not take the opportunity to raise this issue with him.

“We are moving to a new system that has more data on performance and attainment than ever before. This includes school level data on children’s achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels at P1, P4, P7 and S3 in literacy and numeracy. Parents will receive information from their own school about their child’s progress and achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels in literacy and numeracy.”
The spokesperson added that the Making Maths Count group was established in September 2015 to encourage greater enthusiasm for mathematics amongst children and young people, their parents and carers and the wider public. Alongside the group, a National Mathematics Development group with a membership including classroom teachers was tasked with providing greater support for National Qualifications in Mathematics at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher levels.