EDUCATION: Further education has been decimated by the SNP, warns Marr

By Rory Murphy

SNP cuts have hit part time courses – most likely to be accessed by women and those from disadvantaged groups – the hardest, according to Scottish Liberal Democrat higher and further education spokesperson Jenny Marr .

She was commenting on new figures from the Scottish Funding Council showing that in 2019-20, enrolments were 21.1% lower than they were in 2010-11, while head counts were 21.8% lower.

Marr said: “The SNP have decimated Scotland’s further education sector over the past decade. What’s more these figures show that cuts have hit part time courses – most likely to be accessed by women and those from disadvantaged groups – the hardest.

“It’s easy to blame pandemic pressures but the numbers don’t lie, Scotland’s further education institutions have been under huge stress for the past ten years.

“Not only does this deny talented Scots the chance to get on in life, it hurts our economy too by depriving key industries of the staff they need to thrive. The SNP need to reverse course now and ensure that everyone has access to the kind of education that is best for them.”

Liam McArthur MSP would introduce new duties to consider how to connect schools to green Heat Networks.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have lodged amendments to the Heat Networks Bill to introduce targets intended to decarbonise schools.

The amendments lodged by Liam McArthur MSP would introduce new duties to consider how to connect schools to green Heat Networks as part of a bid drive to decarbonise the school estate.

Such proposals have been championed by the Teach the Future group, who are campaigning to put the climate emergency at the centre of education and to arm the next generation with the facts and tools they need to combat the climate crises.

As part of this campaign, students say that all new state-funded Scottish educational buildings should be net-zero from 2022 and all existing state-funded Scottish educational buildings should be retrofitted to net-zero by 2030.

The group say “If our education system is to teach students about sustainability, the buildings they learn within must be sustainable”.

Liam McArthur said: “The climate crisis needs to be front and centre of every part of Scottish life. We can accept nothing less if we are to turn the tide on global warming.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats were instrumental in setting Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets. Now, we want those warm words to be turned into real action from the Scottish Government.

“Young people have shown what it looks like to take responsibility for our environmental obligations. The school strikes were inspiring, and forced progress when the status quo went against them. I hope the Scottish Government will take heed from Scotland’s young people.

“Teach the Future have set out a compelling case to put the climate emergency at the heart of Scottish education, so that the next generation are armed and ready for what is coming their way. But as it stands, they might be learning those lessons in buildings that are part of the problem.

“My amendments would kick start the change needed to overhaul the learning estate, so that Scotland has schools we can be proud of. I hope all parties recognise the need and support these radical and credible suggestions.”

A Teach the Future spokesperson said:  “For students to fully understand and appreciate the values of sustainability, it is essential that they are being taught in a place which echoes the world they will live in. We cannot expect students to be the next leaders if their own schools do not reflect the world they will be leading.

“Therefore, this amendment which works towards the aim of carbon-zero school buildings is a critical part of sustainability education and an essential change to meet our carbon-neutrality aims.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnston in full media photo call mode.

LibDem Alistair Carmichael MP spoke on the impending visit to Scotland of Prime Minister Boris Johnston.

He said: “Ronald Reagan famously said that the scariest words in the English language were “I am from the government and I am here to help you. For those of us making the case against separation the Prime Minister making a day trip of this sort has a similar ring.

“The current guidance is clear that people should not travel except for essential work. If the Prime Minister is intending to travel then he had better have a real reason and some real work to do – not just staged photo shoots.

“When the Prime Minister came to Scotland last summer, he posed for the cameras with Orkney crab and promised good times ahead.

“If he’s determined to visit again, he should meet with those same producers to apologise for breaking his promises and wrecking their access to vital European markets.

“Bungling Boris Johnson has been consistently the most effective recruiting sergeant the nationalists could dream of. If he wants to change that perception then he could start by treating his title as Minister for the Union a little less like a punchline.”

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