Following the weekend announcement that Anas Sarwar will stand against Nicola Sturgeon in his home constituency of Glasgow Southside, the Scottish Labour leader will today unveil an ‘education comeback plan’ for Scotland following the devastating Covid pandemic.
In his first major speech as Scottish Labour leader, Sarwar is clearly making a statement of intent by focusing on education, the policy area in which Sturgeon famously told voters to judge her on her record.
The proposals which the party will take into the election campaign involve a plan to ‘deliver hope for our young people’ including a ‘personal comeback plan’ for every pupil in Scotland on a needs-based assessment, and a tutoring programme for all ages and all pupils.
As some Scottish pupils return to school, Mr Sarwar will also call for a resit guarantee of a free place at college to take national qualifications should this be the chosen path of any pupil from the cohort affected by Covid.
He will also outline a ‘summer comeback’ programme to ensure children can enjoy themselves in the coming months, with resources for national youth, arts and outdoors organisations, school trips to outdoor activity centres, and free access to sport, transport, outdoor activities and culture.
And Mr Sarwar will unveil plans to support the teaching workforce, with a guaranteed completion opportunity for probationary teachers and enhanced digital training for staff.
The ‘education comeback plan’, part of a ‘national recovery plan’ that Scottish Labour will take to the voters in the Holyrood election, has been produced by Michael Marra, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, with the support of education professionals. Mr Marra commented:
“The impact of Covid on general attainment, the poverty-related attainment gap, social and emotional development and ultimately life chances for impacted young people could be significant. Not only will this generation of pupils have dealt with the impact of this year, they are also likely to leave school to an uncertain economic situation.
Never before have young people had to such endure disruption to their learning and their social development. Our response must be of a scale that matches the challenge. We must support them with all the ideas, energy, but most importantly, resources, that we have.”
Speaking ahead of his first major speech as Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar said:
“As tens of thousands of children finally return to school, I pay tribute to everyone who has been home schooling these past few months and the teachers who have continued to support their pupils.
A generation of young people have had their learning disrupted by Covid, which is why we are publishing an education comeback plan for Scotland’s children. At the heart of the plan is the recognition that we have a moral imperative to ensure that our next generation do not carry the weight of the pandemic.
It is a plan that delivers hope for our young people, restores Scottish education, supports teachers, and makes sure that every child has the right to a decent start in life.”