Lib Dems demand action on attainment is made permanent and “fit for the future”

The Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference endorsed proposals to ensure that attainment action is made a “permanent feature” and the attainment fund is used effectively in schools to ensure every child has the “opportunity to succeed and excel” no matter their background.

The triple-tiered plan calls on the Scottish Government, the UK Government and local authorities to “work together and separately” to improve Scottish education.

The comprehensive plan includes calls for:

  • Adoption of a formal UK-wide intention to end child poverty between the four UK administrations, with each committing to use their powers and resources to such an end;
  • Maintain a commitment to a nursery premium - increased funding - to make sure pre-school children from poorer backgrounds can be better supported;
  • New steps to create a government-wide focus on attainment;
  • Securely funded youth work service to allow it to reach young people who are not engaged successfully in formal education;
  • Promotion of colleges as the route to high-level technical qualifications;
  • Scottish universities encouraged to get more young people from poorer backgrounds.
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Scott urges Government to back stressed teachers

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today said the dedication of teachers has been “exploited” by the SNP Government after a major survey warned that the profession is stressed, overworked, and especially critical of their pay and provision for children with additional support needs.

Amongst the key findings of the survey were:

  • 76% of respondents reported that they feel stressed ‘frequently’ or ‘all of the time’ within their jobs.
  • 88% said they felt their stress levels had either stayed the same or increased over the past year.
  • 64% reported working more than 5 hours extra above their contracted hours each week.
  • 35% of those working part time reported working more than 8 hours per week above their contracted hours.
  • 82% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their workload levels.
  • Over 78% disagreed that there was adequate provision for children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) in their school.

The top issue that EIS members want to see addressed by local and national government is teacher pay. This was closely followed by concerns over workload, and concerns over capacity to support pupils with ASN.

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Scott to raise shipping tender in Holyrood

The failure to make any improvements to Shetland's lifeline shipping service will be raised in Holyrood by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott. He has a question next week at Ministerial Question Time (Thursday 31st January).

Tavish has already discussed the government tender with local organisations and Shetland Islands Council. Many are very concerned that despite the range of suggestions made, the government tender is for more of the same with no obvious improvement to Shetland's connections to the Scottish mainland.

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Northern Isles parliamentarians respond to Which? findings on broadband speeds

Shetland’s MSP and MP, Tavish Scott and Alistair Carmichael have reacted to a Which? report showing that Shetland has the second slowest broadband speeds of any area in Scotland by repeating calls for the UK and Scottish Governments to prioritise future investment in the islands.

“Which?” found the areas suffering from the slowest internet speeds in the UK were Orkney (3Mbps), Shetland (6.7Mbps), Argyll and Bute (7Mbps) and Moray (7.1Mbps).

Tavish and Alistair have long campaigned for urgent improvement of local broadband services. The Scottish Government has committed to delivering high speed broadband to 100% of premises across Scotland by 2021. This R100 programme, however, remains in the procurement phase.

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Northern Isles MSPs keep pressure on Government over Northern Isles ferry service

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur have written to the Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse to seek clarity on Government progress towards tendering the next ferry service contract, and on the full implementation of RET.

The next ferry contract is set to be awarded this summer to operate from 31 October 2019. However, there are concerns that thorough public scrutiny will not be possible in this short time frame. In addition, there is no indication as to when RET will be introduced in full on Lerwick-Aberdeen routes, and at all on Orkney routes. To add to the growing frustration, passengers have noticed an increase in fares on the same period last year.  

Tavish and Liam have asked the Minister to set out key dates in the timetable for tendering and have made clear that disputes over RET must be overcome with a greater sense of urgency.

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Scott: Environmental standards must be maintained by oil and gas industry says

The operators of the Sullom Voe oil terminal must maintain environmental standards says Shetland MSP Tavish Scott. In a Holyrood parliamentary debate Tavish noted that EnQuest plan to save £50 million per year at SVT. Tavish argues that those savings must not compromise the environmental standards that Shetland, and particularly its £300 million seafood industry, depend upon.

Speaking in the Tuesday debate on the just transition to a carbon neutral economy, Tavish also reminded Parliament that the industry supports up to 350 jobs directly in Shetland with hundreds more in the supply chain. He urged a “sense of realism” on the future of the oil and gas industry that recognises that even with aggressive measures to reduce carbon emissions from transport, the UK will still have a greater demand for oil than the entire UK industry will produce.

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Northern Isles MSPs seek to guarantee island input on future rural policy and support

Following a debate on Scottish agriculture policy post-Brexit, Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have written to the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, to seek assurances that future policy and legislation will be designed with input from island representatives.

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Second expert “rubbishes” government’s claims of support for P1 testing policy

After a second leading academic, UCLA’s Professor Popham, branded the Scottish Government’s assertion he was a supporter of P1 testing in Scotland “flat-out incorrect”, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today demanded the Education Secretary apologise to the educational experts and Parliament.

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Swinney must apologise to Parliament for manufacturing “fictional” academic support for P1 testing

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today demanded the Education Secretary apologise to Parliament after it was asserted that an education expert “emphatically” supported national testing of P1s, only for the academic to obliterate the claim and argue the tests are in fact “incapable” of helping teachers and “almost completely useless as guides to the achievement and needs of five year olds”.

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Scott: Supreme Court ruling helps make case for federal reform of UK

Scottish Liberal Democrat Europe spokesperson Tavish Scott has today welcomed the Supreme Court's judgment on the Scottish Parliament's continuity bill.

Commenting on the judgement, Tavish said:

"I welcome this judgement from the Supreme Court and the clarity it brings.

"The judgement confirms 'the Scottish bill as a whole would not be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament', when we voted it through. What's more, the difference between the situation "before" and "after" passage of the UK Act gives weight to the view that the UK reduced the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

"Going forward the UK needs to learn from this and make sure that, if Brexit goes ahead, the devolved administrations are fully involved in developing UK-wide frameworks, with proper dispute resolution mechanisms.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats have always advocated a federal system for the UK where the administrations would be required to come together to agree frameworks. This Supreme Court judgement helps make the case for a modern, federal UK."


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