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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-05639: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 15 December 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reported comments by the Scottish Local Government Partnership that “massive failings” have been exposed in the Scottish Government's education plans, and that pupils have been let down.

Answered by: John Swinney 23 January 2017

We are in regular dialogue with all local authorities, and their representative bodies including COSLA and the Scottish Local Government Partnership, as part of our commitment to taking forward our key education priorities. We have been proactively engaging through existing forums and created new groups to allow for direct and regular engagement.

Our commitment to increase free early learning and childcare to 1140 hours by 2020 is this government’s most transformative infrastructure project. Work has already started to plan for this expansion and we will continue to work with our partners as we take forward our ambitious pledge. This is being supported with additional resource with the Scottish Draft Budget 2017-18 allocating over £60 million in new investment to support the expansion of Early Learning and Childcare entitlement.

Our funding to date has already supported the recruitment of 160 full time teachers across the Scottish Attainment Challenge Local Authorities and Schools Programme.

From April, £120 million will be allocated directly to schools on the basis of the numbers of children and young people in P1-S3 known to be eligible and registered for free school meals. This is on top of the existing £50 million that will continue to provide targeted support for those authorities and schools supporting children and young people in greatest need. These two funding streams, which total £170 million for 2017-18, contribute to our commitment to allocate £750 million during the course of this Parliament through the Attainment Scotland Fund.

Through the Scottish Attainment Challenge the Scottish Government is focused on achieving equity in the educational outcomes of children and young people, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.