New education secretary announces meeting with spokespeople across political divide
By Tara Fitzpatrick of STV News
Education secretary Jenny Gilruth says she hopes to “de-politicise” education.
Ms Gilruth is set to meet with Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat education spokespeople this week in the hope of reaching a consensus on the best ways to improve the system.
She said too many debates at Holyrood have become “toxic” following the 2021 election.
And in school teacherly fashion, she’ll be telling then to sit up straight and behave themselves.
Tory Stephen Kerr, LibDem Willie Rennie and Labour’s Pam Duncan Glancy.
Speaking at the NASUWT Scotland conference in Aberdeen on Saturday, the MSP said she hopes to make education an area for “cross-party” work.
She said: “I have meetings set up next week with Stephen Kerr (Scottish Tory education spokesman), Willie Rennie (Scottish Lib Dem education spokesman) and Pam Duncan-Glancy (Scottish Labour education spokeswoman) to talk about how we can try to de-politicise Scottish education.
“I’m going to try to work with my counterparts in other parties.
“The wider space with regards to politics is quite challenging, but in a cost-of-living crisis we should be able to work together on these issues, we absolutely need to, I think.”
She added that early engagement with other political parties had been positive.
Gilruth later told the PA news agency that “Scottish politics is pretty divided”.
“The atmosphere in the chamber since 2021 … and I think because we have a majority support for independence in the parliament, that has necessitated quite a toxic atmosphere from opposition parties that probably didn’t exist in the 2016 parliament,” she added.
“That means any debate, any policy issue, is challenged, the business is routinely challenged at decision time, things that never used to happen in the last parliamentary session, and that feeds into political discourse.”
She added: “We have a responsibility as politicians to behave ourselves.”