Charities respond to new government bills

Classroomweb

A new National Improvement Framework for schools will see standardised assessments in P1, P4, P7 and S3

Scottish charities respond to plans outlined in Scotland's programme for government for the next year

Susan Smith's photo

2nd September 2015 by Susan Smith 2 Comments

Scottish charities have welcomed plans to improve education standards for children, give greater security to privately renting tenants, end employment tribunal fees and make funerals cheaper for families on low incomes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined the proposals in her programme for government up to next year’s Holyrood election.

Plans inlcude a new National Improvement Framework for education that will aim to close the gap in attainment and ensure all children are equipped with the skills they need.

The framework will introduce a national system of standardised assessment in P1, P4, P7 and S3 that will bring consistency to the assessment of literacy and numeracy and tracking of progress across Scotland.

To close the attainment gap a child needs to start school not just equipped with a school bag and pencil case, but having benefited from rich early learning opportunities that will enable them to thrive in the classroom

A total of eight new bills will also include measures to strengthen the law on harassment and sexual offending; increase security for private tenants, protecting against excessive rents; and implement the recommendations made by the Infant Cremation Commission.

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, welcomed the emphasis on education and the government’s commitment to increase free childcare hours to 1140 by 2020 but also called for more investment to improve the quality of pre-school early learning and childcare services.  

Mathers said: “For those families who will benefit from extra free hours of early learning and childcare, these announcements will be welcome, but a focus on quality is the missing element in the debate.

“Save the Children wants to see greater investment in increasing the quality of early learning and childcare services. To close the attainment gap a child needs to start school not just equipped with a school bag and pencil case, but having benefited from rich early learning opportunities that will enable them to thrive in the classroom.”

Crisis, which works with single homeless people in Scotland, said the government’s private renting proposals will help reduce homelessness.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The announcements on tenancy reform are an important step, with Scotland once again taking a lead in putting groundbreaking measures in place to protect people from the devastation of homelessness.

“With the private rented sector continuing to grow – and the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy now the leading cause of homelessness across the UK – it is particularly encouraging that greater protection for tenants is at the heart of the Scottish Government's housing plans through the removal of the no fault ground for eviction.

"It is also pleasing to see acknowledgement of the challenge posed by high rents in some areas of Scotland, which can put secure housing out of reach for many.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland also welcomed the Scottish Government’s aims to surpass its target of developing 30,000 new affordable homes over the lifetime of the parliament.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), which has campaigned against welfare cuts, employment tribunal fees and the high costs of funerals, welcomed moves to help people facing difficulties in these areas.

CAS policy manager Keith Dryburgh said: “In addition to advising individual Scots, CAS also uses our case evidence to show ministers the real-life picture of how public policy impacts negatively on people across the country, and to suggest priority areas for action. We are pleased that the programme reflects these priorities, with specific action on three of the main areas on which CAS has campaigned this year: welfare cuts, employment tribunal fees and the cost of funerals.”

Announcing the programme for government, the First Minister said it demonstrated her government’s commitment to making Scotland fairer.

She said: “This ambitious and reforming programme for government speaks to our aspirations. It sets out how this government will work – now and in the long term – to achieve our vision for Scotland’s future. And it demonstrates how enduring values – a belief in enterprise, a faith in the value of education, a commitment to fairness and solidarity, and a passion for democratic engagement – can be applied to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country.” 

3rd September 2015 by manager

i can not believe we have taken such a giant leap backwards. Scotland was proud to not be testing children and now we move to a Dickensian style of schooling. I moved to Scotland specifically because it didn't do what England did. Testing children in Primary school was abolished for good reason. Education should focus on the individual and not some sort of generic acceptance of where society deems them to be. We have learnt children develop at different speeds and in different ways.This is all so they can fit in some statistic and although the Scottish Government wont do it these stats can be manipulated into making league tables one of the worse aspects of the English education system.I hope the Education and the Third sector can campaign against this aspect of the billJust to prove how well thought of I have added this Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/world/europe/scottish-schools-focus-on-more-than-just-tests.html?_r=0

8th September 2015 by Worried parent

Of course educational standards need to be improved, the recent maths exam had pupils passing despite only gaining 33% in their papers! Sadly the next international assessment by PISA is a year away but this report from the 2013 survey by the BBC showed Scotland and the rest of the UK have fallen a long way behind our international competitors: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-25216523