Conservative election candidate Cameron Smith says the SIC is being forced to do the “dirty work” of the Scottish government in implementing cuts to the education service.
Speaking after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to put education at the heart of the SNP’s election campaign, Mr Smith criticised the Holyrood administration for its record.
He said: “The rural nature of Shetland presents particular challenges to overcome when providing the highest level of education for our young folk.
“The Attainment Challenge funding announced to great fanfare by the Scottish government in reality brings little new money to Shetland Islands Council.
“This is another example of an eye-catching headline, while councils across Scotland and particularly here in Shetland are forced to do the dirty work and make the cuts of up to 4.5 per cent to service provision.
“I think Shetland is owed a better settlement than that…”
Mr Smith took the opportunity to endorse his own party’s paper which sets out an alternative plan for education in Scotland.
The Tories’ “Gold Standard” Education Plan promises a “world class education for every child”. It identifies three areas where immediate action is needed to improve standards – putting schools in charge, improving literacy and numeracy, and delivering greater transparency.
New policies in the paper include:
• Handing control over budgets, recruitment and funding of the new Scottish attainment challenge directly to head teachers;
• “Buddying” the best and worst-performing schools to help spread best practice;
• Greater focus on literacy and numeracy, support for parents, and the creation of a new First Minister’s Reading Challenge.
It also calls for a new independent inspectorate “which is trusted by parents to set high standards” and new standardised tests for P1, P4 and P7 students.
Mr Smith said: “I believe that the policies outlined by the party and by [Scottish Conservatives leader] Ruth Davidson would be important steps to improve education provision across Scotland. Moving from ‘average’ or just ‘satisfactory’ to an education system which can be described as the gold standard should be our shared ambition and this new paper sets out a Conservative vision to achieve that goal.”
Some of the pledges included in the “gold standard” are mirrored in the government’s own plans for education.
The Conservative Party’s paper can be read here: THE GOLD STANDARD – A world class education for every child