Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron has said that the decline in school subject choice is “deeply worrying” after research conducted by Professor Jim Scott of Dundee University indicated that not a single secondary school in the Highland Council area or the Western Isles now offered as many as 8 subjects at S4.
Donald expressed his concern after a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee yesterday (Wednesday 24th April) which is conducting an inquiry into declining subject choice.
The revelations follow concern expressed last month at the committee when research by Highlands and Islands Enterprise showed that 46% of school pupils in the Highlands and Islands region believe that the range of subjects available will limit their post-school options.
Donald said: “I am particularly worried about the knock-on effect this could have on Highers and Advanced Highers.
“There is widespread concern that this contraction in choice is leading to a decline in subject areas such as music, art, languages and technology.
“These are all creative subjects that have a particular resonance in the Highlands and Islands and we will be much poorer as a country if they continue to decline. Frankly, it is deeply worrying.”
Donald added: ”It is a sad fact that Nicola Sturgeon’s statement yesterday on a second independence referendum was her sixth on the constitution since becoming First Minister.
“She has not made a single statement purely on education to the Scottish Parliament.”
Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary said;
“While Nicola Sturgeon is busy pushing for another independence referendum, experts have fully exposed the extent of the subject choice crisis affecting so many schools across Scotland.
“Professor Scott’s detailed analysis tells us that the majority of state schools are now offering fewer subjects, undermining the strong Scottish tradition of breadth within the curriculum which was so admired around the world.
“Parents simply do not buy the argument that restricting subject choice is beneficial.
“Instead of giving statements on independence, Nicola Sturgeon should be explaining why experts think the SNP’s education reforms are failing a generation of pupils.”