A Smarter Scotland....

“Scotland’s success will be built on education and the skills of our people.”

My vision is of a Scotland where more and more Scots are able to fulfil their ambitions and take advantage of new opportunities in their work or in their study. I want to see a Learning Scotland, where people strive to develop new skills, nurture their talents and to push the boundaries of their knowledge.

I believe firmly in the principle of free education and am proud to be part of an SNP government that has restored free higher education by abolishing the Graduate Endowment Fee. The SNP believes that educational opportunity should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. I am determined to protect that principle. There will be no tuition fees for Scottish students.

The Spending Review 2011 includes:

  • £50 million investment in an Early Years Change Fund over the next four years
  • A deal with councils to maintain teacher numbers in line with pupil numbers
  • Delivery of 100,000 training places over the next year
  • A record number of 125,000 new start Modern Apprenticeships over the next 5 years
  • Guaranteeing a place in learning or training for every 16 to 19 year old
  • Restating the commitment to no tuition fees and protecting university places for Scottish students
  • Working towards a minimum income of at least £7,000 for the lowest income students
  • Ensuring Scotland's universities remain on a level financial footing with those in England

We are entering an age where knowledge - from the technical to the theoretical - is essential if Scotland is to truly prosper. Improved skills will be crucial for our competitiveness in the years ahead. Better skills means new and better jobs, higher salaries and new business opportunities.    The skills landscape needs simplification in order to maintain Scotland’s cutting edge in this area. Scotland has many natural resources, and the most important is without doubt our people. That is why we are working to ensure Scotland has the education and training system it needs to succeed. It is why we are planning new training opportunities and more flexible approaches to training - proposals that will make a difference.

We know that supporting children in their earliest years gives them opportunities for learning and development that make a huge difference for the rest of their lives. Even in these difficult times, we will do everything we can to give our future generations the best possible start in life.

One of the very first acts of the new SNP Government was to restore Scotland’s historic tradition of free education by abolishing back door tuition fees in the form of the graduate endowment.

We have always maintained that access to education should be based on the ability to learn not on the ability to pay.