John Swinney visits Dalmarnock Primary to announce Pupil Equity Funding -JS. Photo by Jamie Simpson
IMPROVING education will be a top priority for SNP councillors, John Swinney has said.
The Deputy First Minister launched a mini education manifesto ahead of the council elections next month and said from early years to adults, learning is top of the agenda.
He said SNP led councils would build new schools, maintain teacher numbers and work to close the attainment gap.
Opponents however dismissed the SNP record as taking power from councils and of imposing education cuts on councils for the last ten years.
Mr Swinney said: “A good education is an investment, not just in our children, but in our society and our economy too.”
“A vote for the SNP in the council elections is a vote to elect councillors who are dedicated to protecting and improving our education system.
“The SNP believes from the early years through to adulthood, everyone should be given the very best chance of success in life.”
Mr Swinney said a vote for the SNP at the council elections was a vote for “cast-iron commitments” to continue work to improve education.
In Glasgow the SNP has said as well as delivering on national priorities it would invest £19 improving school playgrounds across the city.
Labour said instead of improving, education has suffered since the SNP took power at Holyrood in 2007.
Iain Gray, education spokesman, said: “Under the SNP, the gap between the richest and poorest in our schools has widened, and there are 4,000 fewer teachers and 1,000 fewer support staff in our schools.
“The SNP government has cut £1.5billion from local services since 2011, that’s cuts to education made by John Swinney when he was Finance Secretary.”
The Liberal Democrats accused Mr Swinney of taking control of education decisions away from local councils.
Tavish Scott, Education spokesman, said: “The message is clear that if you vote SNP in the local elections you get centralised SNP national policy. That means when SNP Ministers say jump their councillors will just ask Nicola how high?
“The SNP do not understand that local people want local councillors who will fight for local schools not impose national policy and education cuts.”
The Conservatives said that the SNP rhetoric on education was not matched by action.
Liz Smith, Education spokeswoman said: ““Having been in power for ten years they have no excuses for why we are performing so poorly, with teacher numbers too low and the recent PISA figures showing that Scottish pupils are now playing catch-up with the rest of the world.”