Scottish Government abandons education bill

Falling support for the Scottish Government’s agenda has seen it drop its right wing education reforms after parliamentary support was not forthcoming.

The government is publishing its draft education bill, but will not present it to parliament, in an embarrassing u-turn for Education Minister John Swinney.

The SNP’s political priorities came to loggerheads with spin, after it was revealed that only the Tories would be supporting the education bill. The prospect of joining forces with Ruth Davidson has put paid to the education reforms, which echoed those pursued by the Conservative government down south.

The reforms were based on further centralisation of schooling, similar to the academisation pursued by Michael Gove in England. They would also have granted more powers to head teachers, but only by virtue of removing powers from local authorities.

Labour have suggested that the the bill has been buried in part because the International Council of Education Advisors, a committee formed by the Scottish Government in 2016, have claimed the reforms would ‘[open] the door to market-driven approaches that would damage education in Scotland.’.

Scottish Labour Education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“What a shambles from John Swinney.

“For two years parents, teachers, educationalists and the government’s own international advisers have told the Education Secretary that his Education Bill was unwanted, unnecessary and misguided.

"But he carried on regardless. Now, at the eleventh hour, his flagship legislation has sailed off into the sunset.

"This was the First Minister’s top priority, her sacred obligation, now reduced to just another last minute, cobbled together action plan.

“The only thing being fast tracked here is the mother of all ministerial climb downs.

“John Swinney failed to marshall support in or out of this parliament for his so called reforms, he should admit his Education Bill is dead and focus on the real reform our schools need, better funding, by restoring his cuts from school budgets and address the huge erosion of teachers’ pay.”

The abandonment of the education reforms was also welcomed by Trade Unions that have long opposed the bill. Commenting on the decision to ‘pause’ the bill, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said:

“The EIS welcomes the announcement that the Scottish Government has decided to pause its Education Bill legislation, and to grant Scottish education the breathing space that teachers have been asking for. However, whilst the EIS welcomes the partnership approach agreed between national and local government, we are clear that such an approach must be extended beyond politicians to include the profession itself and in particular teacher trade unions such as the EIS.”

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