The numbers that show the SNP’s failure on education

The number of primary school teachers has fallen under the SNP's tenure


As schools across Scotland return today from the summer break, first minister Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a speech in defence of the SNP’s record on education.

She will do so against an abysmal set of statistics showing the abject failure of her party to achieve its key goals.

In its manifesto for the 2007 election, which it won as a minority administration, the SNP  pledged to ‘reduce class sizes in Primary 1, 2 and 3’ – the early stages of primary education in Scotland – ‘to eighteen pupils or less to give children more time with their teacher at this vital stage of their development’.

Laudable aims, yet the Scottish government’s own statistics show that whilst the percentage of pupils in class sizes of 18 or fewer increased from 15.3 per cent in 2007 to 21.6 per cent in 2010, it has since fallen dramatically.

The most recent data shows that as of 2014, just 12.9 per cent of children in Primary 1, 2 and 3 were in classes of 18 or fewer pupils.

Over the same period, the proportion of such pupils in class sizes of 19-25 increased from 53.6 per cent in 2010 to 60.4 per cent in 2014. The proportion in classes of more than 25 pupils increased over this period from 24.8 per cent to 26.7 per cent. This is despite 2010 legislation that made class sizes above 25 illegal.

Overall, the average primary school class size in Scotland stands at 23.3 pupils, higher than the 22.7 average size at the time of the last elections to Holyrood in 2011.

And what of teacher numbers? According to the official data, the total number of teachers based in early learning and childcare, primary, secondary and special schools, or visiting specialists, was 50,814 in 2014, a ten-year low.

During the course of the current SNP government’s tenure alone, which began in 2007, the number of such teachers has fallen by 4,285.

Little wonder that the SNP is under such pressure to explain how, as a party supposedly committed to education as a route to social mobility, it could be presiding over such a dreadful record.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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10 Responses to “The numbers that show the SNP’s failure on education”

  1. RolftheGanger

    The article avoids the elephant in the room. The actual administrative control of education is done by local councils. And the main problems are in councils still heavily controlled or influenced by the Rd Tory Party.

    None of whom are over-anxious to help the SNP Scottish Government to shine.

  2. Richard MacKinnon

    Rolf, Scotland has made the first step in the process of eradicating itself of its political dead wood. The next step is next years Holyrood elections. Scotland will purge Holyrood of Labour MSPs and the year after, in 2017, we will rid ourselves of Labour’s Scottish councillors.
    To anyone who thinks that this cleansing of our body politic is some kind a nationalist vendetta, it is not. Scotland has eventually realised that after years of cronyism, rule from afar, misrule, sectarianism, corruption in office and corruption to attain office the Labour Party is unhealthy for Scotland’s civic good.

  3. Alan59

    More BS from Jimmy Krankie !

  4. Godfrey Paul

    The SNP have peaked. The only way is down !!!

  5. I'm very cross about this.

    There’s not very much that I would agree with the SNP about but the belief that the Labour party are useless for Scotland and also England is something that is very easy to agree with. Comrade Corbyn for leader and then on to a wipe out in England in 2020.

  6. noahpetshop

    They just lie and lie and lie some more ! And their halfwit sheeple followers just lap it up 1

  7. noahpetshop

    Facts are chiels that dinnae lee !

  8. fran whitmore

    Myths about Class sizes Ed – it was the Scottish local authorities – the labour led ones, who set their faces against smaller class sizes. They fought against the policy tooth and nail and are still fighting against it but don’t let the facts get in the way of your anti-snp story. Never mind as everybody in Scotland now knows how useless and self-serving Scottish Labour are at every level and we vote accordingly.

  9. Eric Christison

    Yep, the SNP has failed in every sector of Scottish Education from Primary 1 to the final year of university.

    From the Scotsman today “The statistics on literacy, numeracy, the Higher mathematics pass rate (34 per cent!) and now the fall in numbers studying maths and science are all evidence of this shocking record.

    It is actually a pretty difficult trick to pull off, to have a uniformly negative impact on both primary and secondary education, and simultaneously reduce the numbers studying the most crucial subjects in the curriculum, but the SNP has managed it.”

    But hey, in this Post Referendum Post Rational age we find ourselves in who cares? Us Scots will lap up the whinging excuses from the SNP and carry on blaming anyone else other those who are responsible.

  10. Dave Armstrong

    Talking of facts – firstly, there has been a council tax freeze for 8 years; secondly, only 2 out of 32 councils have a Labour majority – most are coalitions, many including the SNP. The idea that the massed ranks of Labour councillors are blocking SNP education policies is nonsense.

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