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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RET Equivalent Announcement

Today the new Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson announced that an RET equivalent will be introduced on the Aberdeen-Lerwick and Lerwick-Kirkwall ferry routes from tomorrow. 

Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) has been in place on Western Isles services since 2008, reducing fares in line with what a similar land journey would cost. 

It looks like a typical peak time islander rate return trip to Aberdeen for a family of four travelling with a car and a cabin, will now cost £525 rather than £600.

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Scott: SNP education bill vanishing

Responding to a Scottish Government statement shelving their long delayed education bill but committing to make changes without legislation, education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP said:

"Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said education is her number one priority but she couldn't even be bothered to turn up to see her legislative centrepiece vanish like lines off a classroom smartboard.

"This bill has faced well deserved criticism from teachers, unions and even the SNP's own advisers. It should be discarded, not left hanging over the heads of councils.

"What teachers need is the time to teach and a fair wage for doing so. Not more power in the hands of SNP quangos.

"Parents, pupils and teachers will never again trust the SNP when they say that education is at the heart of their agenda."

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Tavish supports Marie Curie baking challenge

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott joined over 150 people at a special event celebrating terminal illness charity Marie Curie’s latest fundraiser on Wednesday 20 June 2018.

The Blooming Great Garden Party held at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park saw MSPs, volunteers and supporters join celebrations for the Blooming Great Tea Party campaign. The charity is also celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Tavish said:

“It was great to meet Marie Curie volunteers and supporters whose dedication and support is invaluable to those accessing the charity’s services.

“I welcome the recent creation of a support group in Shetland and look forward to continuing to support their important work providing comfort and support at the end of life.”

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Colleges face growing attainment gap and £360m repair bill

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has today highlighted the growing attainment gap in Scotland's colleges and the impending £360m repair bill as he called for new investment to repair Scotland’s colleges.

The Auditor General's annual report on Scotland's colleges reveals:

  • College buildings require urgent and significant investment, with a backlog of repairs and maintenance over the next five years of up to £360 million;
  • the harmonisation of staff pay will absorb any savings from the SNP's centralisation of colleges;
  • The gap in attainment between students from the least and most deprived areas is growing;
  • Some college boards continue to have significant gender imbalances in their membership that would fall short of the new statutory gender representation objective.
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Scott: Racial equality report stresses need for teaching diversity

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has today called on the Scottish Government to improve diversity across the teaching profession as a new report revealed the "chronic" underrepresentation of BME communities in Scotland’s schools.

The report from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights published today states:

  • "BME groups are overrepresented in teaching applications, but underrepresented in shortlisted candidates, appointed candidates, and staff in post"
  • "Representation in the teaching workforce has significant implications for racial equality, given the public-facing nature of the profession and the direct and sustained contact with children."

The report comes on the heels of research by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which found just four BAME head or deputy head teachers in Scottish schools.

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Scott: Expand FOI to firms delivering public contracts

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today called for private sector companies which deliver public sector services to be subject to Freedom of Information requests, saying that firms with a crucial role in supplying the basic infrastructure of the country must be accountable to the public. 

Speaking ahead of a Scottish Parliament opposition day debate on transparency on Wednesday 20th June, Tavish cited ScotRail and contractors such as Carillion delivering the Aberdeen West Peripheral Route as examples of significant public infrastructure in which there was a clear public interest in greater transparency.

In a recent speech to the IPPR think tank, UK Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable called for reform of FOI laws in England to allow closer scrutiny of firms delivering public contracts as well as consideration be given to the creation of new legal entities for companies that regularly deliver public sector contracts.

A survey by the Scottish Information Commissioner previously found that 81% of the public think organisations building and maintaining schools and hospitals should be subject to FOI.

Public procurement of services is currently worth £11billion each year.

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Tavish highlights serious shortage of BAME top teachers

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has highlighted the continuing underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in top teaching posts, with new figures indicating that there are only a handful of BAME ethnic minority head teachers or depute heads across the whole of Scotland.

He also stressed the need to attract more people to the teaching profession and pay careful attention to diversity as part of this process.

The statistics are shown in Scottish Government data and backed up by Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests to local authorities. Among the 19 councils which provided a breakdown to the party, there were only 2 BAME head teachers and 2 BAME deputy head teachers in the whole of Scotland.

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