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First Minister's Statement on Government Programme, Childcare and Education 26/11/14 [S]

Ministerial Statement in the Scottish Parliament on 26 November 2014 from the First Minister, on the Scottish Government's Programme.

She said on the topic of Childcare and Education:

"We now have a record number of women in work, but a pay gap still exists, underemployment is higher in women, and women are still underrepresented in senior positions and in some careers—for example, engineering.

That is one reason why we will continue our major expansion of childcare. Our focus in the coming year will be on delivery and take-up of our pledge that, from August next year, 27 per cent of two-year-olds, as well as all three and four-year-olds, will receive 16 hours a week of childcare. In the coming year we will also start planning to ensure that, if we are re-elected, this Government can deliver our commitment to almost double the number of hours of free childcare that will be provided from 16 hours to 30 hours per week by the end of the next session of Parliament.

A greater level of good-quality and affordable childcare is one of the best investments that we can make in Scotland’s future. It will provide parents—especially mothers—with greater opportunities for work, and it will ensure that we provide all of Scotland’s children with the best possible start in life. Support for young people has to continue from infancy right through to adulthood.

Against every main measurement, Scottish school education is getting better. We are well advanced in implementing curriculum for excellence; we have record exam results; we have a record number of school leavers in work, education or training; and we have in the past seven years halted our decline in the PISA—programme for international student assessment—international league tables.

However, we need to do more—much more—to ensure that all pupils, regardless of their background, have an equal opportunity to succeed. In the next year, our forthcoming education bill will give new rights to children who have additional support needs. We will make it a priority to improve the educational outcomes of pupils in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland through initiatives such as the raising attainment for all programme, which already covers more than 150 schools.

In the next year, Education Scotland will appoint in every local authority an attainment adviser who will support local action to improve attainment. I can also confirm that we will introduce a new literacy and numeracy campaign—read, write, count—that will benefit all children in primary 1 to 3, but which will have a specific focus on schools and parents in our most deprived communities.

Taken together, those measures represent a targeted approach to attainment that will help children across Scotland—especially those in our disadvantaged areas."

For full details see the Scottish Parliament Official Report 26 November 2014 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Official Report 26 November 2014