A good education really is one of the most important things anyone can get and, in Scotland, it’s something we’ve always taken very seriously with a long history of providing public education. In Scotland, our education system has always been distinct from that south of the border, with a broader range of subjects in general and the provision of free higher education with all Scottish universities being public universities. In fact, in recent studies, Scotland has been ranked as the most well educated country in Europe and among the most well educated in the world in terms of achievement in tertiary eduction.
It’s no wonder then that the Scottish Government has continually put a great deal of focus into our education system with things such as the abolition of tuition fees, and a continued commitment to closing the attainment gap between the better off and worse off in our society.
It all starts at the very beginning of the learner’s journey, with all pupils in Primaries 1 to 3 now benefiting from free school meals, ensuring that children have a healthy, balanced lunch and saving families around £380 per year per child.
In our most deprived areas, the Attainment Scotland Fund, amounting to some £160 million, is helping to improve literacy and numeracy rates, as well as health and well-being in over 300 primary schools. This is a marked part of the SNP’s commitment to closing the attainment gap in our schools that has resulted from differing socio-economic circumstances.
The SNP has managed to keep spending per pupil higher in Scotland than across the border, with spending per pupil 9% higher in Scotland at primary level and 12% higher at secondary level – ensuring that every child has the resources they need to become successful and confident learners.
Another result of increased attention to eduction is the 607 school projects delivered- the result of a £1.8 billion investment in our schools, meaning that more pupils are now learning in well designed and inclusive environments. The provision of a good, accessible and inclusive environment is crucial in creating a space where pupils feel they have the tools they need to learn, helping them reach their potential in every way possible.
The Education maintenance allowance, which was scrapped in England and Wales, has been expanded by the SNP government to support 57,000 school pupils and college students from our poorest families. Another crucial aid, scrapped by the Tories too, has been the Disabled Students’ Allowance, which has been maintained by the SNP.
At College, the number of full-time college places is now up to over 119,000 places, exceeding the commitment of the SNP’s 2011 manifesto by more than 3,000 places. Our college students can now enjoy the highest bursary anywhere in the UK, allowing students financial peace of mind to study and gain the qualifications they need.
To help college students gain these qualifications, the SNP have invested £530 million in new college estates and buildings with state of the art facilities in Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Inverness, with a further £140 million for the colleges in Fife and the Forth Valley. These new facilities are helping to provide students with an effective learning environment as well as the tools and equipment to excel in their studies.
Our universities are seeing a record number of Scots being supported into and through university studies, with record numbers of those from our most deprived backgrounds more likely to study at university. Our graduates in Scotland are also more likely to go on to further study or employment upon completion of their degrees than in any other part of the UK. As well as that, graduates from Scottish Universities, on average earn more than graduates from other UK universities.
Our universities are also helping to close the attainment gaps too, with our poorest students living at home being guaranteed a minimum support level of £7,625 per year. And more women going to study at university are now choosing to study STEM subjects, with our young women now making up 48% of all those gaining a degree.
These are just a few of the achievements that the SNP have made in government for our education system.
It is clear that an educated population is a more successful one; it is one that drives innovation, earns more, thinks more, pushes our politicians further, and helps us to make a real impact for the better on the international stage. Moreover, an education population is one that is happier, because it drives the change for the better.
The SNP have seen this and have remained, over their nine years in government, committed to ensuring that Scotland’s education system retains its place as one of the best in the world, a real envy of other countries.
It is for that reason that the SNP are committed to ensuring that everyone gets a fair start, that everyone is supported all the way, regardless of personal circumstance, that everyone has the tools they need to excel, that everyone who wants it gets the chance to study in tertiary education, and that everyone in Scotland can truly be the best they can be.
So if you, like myself and the SNP, want to see a smarter Scotland, leading the way forward on the international stage, then it has to be #BothVotesSNP