Nicola Sturgeon denies parents are being ‘left in the dark’ on school standards

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Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed Tory claims that parents are being “left in the dark” on how schools are performing in key areas such as numeracy.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said parents were being left “without any idea as to whether standards are going up or down”.

She highlighted an earlier decision by the Scottish Government to scrap a national survey of literacy and numeracy, saying while new national assessments have been brought in there would be a five year gap in information.

The First Minister responded by saying more data was available than ever before, with the new testing system providing results for individual local authorities and schools, instead of just the country as a whole.

“Parents actually have much more of an idea how their schools are doing than they ever have before,” Ms Sturgeon said.

But Ms Davidson said: “What the First Minister doesn’t get is if you are the mum of a seven year old now, you’re not going to know until your child is a teenager whether this country is getting any better at teaching maths or not.

“And the reason for that is that old national survey showed standards were declining, so this SNP government got the blame and then it cancelled the survey, that is what happened.

“And it’s left parents without any idea as to whether standards are going up or down.”

The Tory pressed the issue at First Minister’s Questions, saying Holyrood’s Education Committee had already warned of a “five year gap in our knowledge because of the actions of this SNP government”.

Ms Davidson continued the attack, saying: “We’ve lost more than 400 maths teachers since the SNP came into office, vacancies have gone up in the last two years and the last time we did measure numeracy in our schools we found that Scottish education had gone backwards under this government.”

Ms Sturgeon however insisted the “problem” with  the way performance had been measured under the old Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy, was that this failed to provide  data at school or local authority level.

She argued changes as part the Curriculum for Education (CfE) reforms “provide the information at not just national level, but schools and local authority levels as well”.

The SNP leader insisted: “There is more data now about pupil performance in our schools than there has ever been before.

“And crucially what all of that shows is that we are making progress in raising attainment and closing the attainment gap, which is maybe what Ruth Davidson is a bit disappointed about.”

She continued: “I think parents deserve to know what is happening in their children’s schools, which is why we now publish the data at school level.

“Because the reality is, and maybe Ruth Davidson should look into this just a little bit more closely, that under the survey of literacy and numeracy a parent had no idea what was happening in their child’s school because that survey didn’t produce any data at school level.

“That is the difference in the data we publish now, it provides data  not just at national level, not just at local authority level, it provides the data at individual school level.”

The First Minister added: “Attainment in our schools is improving and the attainment gap is closing. These are the facts.

“And in terms of teachers there are more teachers in our schools now than at any time since 2010. There are more primary school teachers in our schools now than at any time since I was at primary school.

“That’s the reality of the progress in our education system. No wonder Ruth Davidson is so furious about it.”

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