I asked the Education Minister earlier today if he could learn lessons from Scotland where the SNP Scottish Government has halved the gap between young people from the least well off and the better off communities going into positive destinations since 2009/10.
His response was to fail to welcome this progress in Scotland and say things which were not true about Scottish education. In some parts of England, per head of pupil funding is less than £4,800 per year whilst in Scotland it is over £6,000 per year. Per pupil funding in England is down 8% since 2010 whilst in Scotland £750m has been invested in tackling the attainment gap to help ensure every child has an equal chance to succeed.
In England, the Department of Education’s own figures show that more than 30% of mainstream schools had a financial shortfall in 2017/18, compared with 11% five years earlier, despite the UK Tory Government insisting that schools in England have the highest funding on record.
The Scottish Government, alongside local government invests £8b in education every year both in both revenue and capital and local authorities in Scotland have set education budgets of £5.2 billion this year – 3.8% higher than the budgets they set last year – a 2.3% real terms increase in planned spend on education.
In Scotland, further and higher education is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay which is why students in Scotland do not incur debt from tuition fees of up to £27,000 over three years which is why students in Scotland have the lowest debt in the entire UK. Funding education and delivering free tuition is an important tool in advancing social mobility and supporting young people.
Whilst challenges in Scottish education continue, the Minister clearly felt unable to welcome the real progress in Scotland in contrast to the crisis in England’s schools. Sadly, not very surprising.
Click below to hear the exchange: