Status quo ‘not an option’: Swinney

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The status quo in education is ‘not an option’ if Scotland is to close the attainment gap and raise the bar for all, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

In a major speech setting out his agenda for Scottish education, Mr Swinney highlighted its strengths – including the achievements of young people and teachers – and acknowledged the challenges being faced.

The DFM made clear that further change is needed to strengthen Scotland’s education system, and ensure public services focus on the needs of individual children and young people rather than their own organisational arrangements.

He said: “Education is by far the most effective means we have to improve the life chances of all our young people. I am determined to seize the opportunity to transform lives for the better and, in doing so, transform the future of our country. That is my agenda for Scottish education.

“The data show there are many positives in Scottish education: more of our young people are getting excellent exam results and going onto a job, training or continuing their studies. They also show the genuine challenges we face if we are to raise the bar for all and close the attainment gap.

“There is no shortage of opinions on what I should do to. It is striking to me that, despite the range of data detailing the challenges we face, one of the more common comments I hear is from those who say that nothing needs to change. And what is perhaps most worrying is that this body of opinion is from within Scottish education.

“I want to be clear today that my opinion – the view of the Scottish Government – is clear. Looking at the data, the status quo is not an option. Doing more of the same will not achieve our ambitions for our children and young people and their future. Our public services need to focus on the individual, not their own organisational arrangements. Change is needed, change is happening and more change is coming.”