Scott condemns Shetlanders' exclusion from university access schemes

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson and MSP for Shetland Tavish Scott has written to the Principal of Edinburgh University, Professor Peter Mathieson, criticising the move to award clearing places only to those students identified as being from poorer backgrounds by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), a decision which excludes every prospective student from a more deprived background currently living in Shetland.

This approach has been criticised by University of Edinburgh Professor of Education Policy, Lindsay Paterson who highlighted figures suggesting that 65 per cent of young people from low income households do not live in the SIMD 20 postcodes. A paper from the Commission on Widening Access, published in March 2016, stated that "SIMD, as an area based measure, is considered too blunt to identify individual circumstances".

The letter is copied to Education Secretary John Swinney and the Commissioner for Fair Access, Sir Peter Scott, and follows Mr Scott’s criticism earlier this year of Aberdeen University’s decision to award a year’s free university accommodation to SIMD 20 students at a cost of some £130,000, and new information acquired through a Lib Dem FOI request showing Robert Gordon University also operating two SIMD only schemes, one of which gives students a goody bag worth £250.

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Northern Isles Digital Forum - Shetland

Islesburgh Community Centre, Friday 17th August 2018, 11am to 1pm

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Scot Lib Dems to propose boost for teachers at autumn conference

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP laid out yesterday a plan to back teachers with a range of proposals designed to restore the status, strength and resilience of the profession to be discussed at the party's conference next month.

The party has repeatedly called for McCrone 2 - an independent expert commission to review teachers' terms and the demands placed upon them.  In Dunfermline on 8 September, delegates will now be asked to back the Commission designing and delivering better conditions for teachers including:

  • A new “teacher premium” for schools in disadvantaged areas consisting of pay supplements designed to attract and reward the best teachers for the schools in greatest need;
  • New, optional, three-year packages for probationer teachers – consisting of the current one-year probationary period plus two further guaranteed years – to help local authorities get graduates to take up posts in certain geographical areas such as the Highlands and the North East.
  • New retention bonuses paid to new teachers who commit to posts in hard-to-fill areas;
  • A guaranteed minimum level of support staff in every school to allow teachers to focus on the needs of each individual pupil;
  • A pay rise for teachers to reflect that starting salaries are 20% lower than comparable professions
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Scott: SNP must trust teachers or classrooms will face another difficult year

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott has today said that the Scottish Government must trust teachers or classrooms will face another difficult year as further evidence of the impact of the Government's education policies emerged.

This week:

  • Exam results showed the total number of courses passed by S4 pupils has declined by a third since 2013, with education expert Keir Bloomer saying the government had been "sleepwalking" towards a "castrophic" drop, "giving young people fewer opportunities".
  • Analysis by Professor Jim Scott showed the number of S4 pupils studying and passing French has dropped by more than 60% (27,626 pupils passed in 2012-13, compared to just 9,854 last year), with other modern languages also experiencing big falls.
  • It was revealed that there were almost 700 vacant teacher posts as the new term approaches.

It comes after last week Scottish Liberal Democrats unearthed that ministers were sent hundreds of pages worth of blistering feedback from teachers on national testing of P1 pupils, with teaching unions now contemplating boycotts;

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Scott and McArthur Demand Updates on Steps to Unlock RET Impasse

Following the failure of the Scottish Government to introduce full RET on Orkney ferry routes this summer and resorting to a stop gap equivalent for the Aberdeen-Lerwick and Kirkwall-Lerwick routes, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur have called on the new Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, to update local residents on the steps being taken by the government to resolve the impasse.

Despite repeated promises to introduce the cheaper ferry fares scheme before parliament rose for the summer recess at the end of June, Ministers failed to deliver after they were unable to reach agreement with Pentland Ferries on the details of the scheme.  As a result, fares for passengers and cars on routes serving Orkney remain higher than they should be with no indication as to when this situation will be resolved.

For services out of Lerwick, fares have been reduced by 12% for islanders as cabins are not included. This is far from the 40% promised by the Scottish Government last year.

Mr Scott and Mr McArthur, have now written to Mr Matheson reiterating their disappointment and demanding an update.

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Scott Condemns Airport Owner For Free Parking Offer

Despite Sumburgh Airport’s operator trying to impose car parking charges on islanders, they are now offering free parking at Inverness Airport.

 

HIAL, who operate airports on behalf of the Scottish Government, are offering free parking at Inverness Airport for flights to Jersey.

 

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said, “HIAL are an incompetent organisation. They are not a fit organisation to run our airports. Their policy is to impose car parking charges at airports where there are no alternative to lifeline air travel. But at Inverness, where there are other travel options, they offer free parking. What a typical shambles. 

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Constituency Surgery

I'll be holding a surgery in my constituency office at 171 Commercial Street, Lerwick, Monday, 13 August from 5pm-6pm.

Please come along if there is anything I can help you with as your MSP.

No appointment needed.

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Scott reveals international education experts refused to endorse SNP's national testing

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today said the Scottish Government is "isolated" in its support for national testing after it was revealed that their International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) refused to endorse the Scottish Government's approach in a major report.

Concerns expressed during the drafting of the ICEA's 2016-18 Report were revealed in response to a freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Other comments on the draft report question the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and warn that a measure of progress on attainment, previously quoted by John Swinney, is "not a particularly high bar if excellence is a genuine goal."

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Scott: Aberdeen strike action harms NHS patients in the Isles

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today appealed to Unite’s Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, to allow lifeline medical flights from the islands to continue throughout their newly announced strike periods.

Workers at Aberdeen Airport have announced their intention to strike at points throughout late July and August. This would deny NHS patients living in Orkney and Shetland the opportunity to attend scheduled medical appointments in Aberdeen through no fault of their own.

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Russell on side as momentum builds for a people’s vote

Responding to the Scottish Government’s Constitutional Relations Secretary, Mike Russell’s appearance on BBC GMS Friday morning, where he said people would require a say on the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations, Scottish Liberal Democrat Europe spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP commented:

“It appears the SNP are finally starting to see the light. Mike Russell is right that the British people deserve to have the final say on whether Theresa May’s ropey Brexit deal is good enough. He does however need to give up on the constant caveats. This isn’t about political posturing. It’s about warding off economic disaster.

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