A smarter Scotland: SNP’s record in education in 13 facts

Scotland has an education system to be proud of.

We’re determined to ensure that everyone gets the best start in life, proper support throughout their education, and that university is always based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

Here’s what we’ve already achieved, and what we’re doing to make education even better.

1. Highest per-person investment in education in the UK

Since coming into government, the SNP’s policies have resulted in the highest level of education investment across the UK.

In Scotland, we invest £1,685 in education per person – compared to £1,382 in Labour-run Wales and £1,319 in Tory-run England.

2. 1,000 schools built or upgraded

Since the SNP took office, 1,000 schools have been built or upgraded – providing well-designed, accessible and inclusive learning environments for pupils.

Scotland also has proportionally more schools than England and Wales – 353 schools per 100,000 pupils, compared to 314 in Wales and 257 in England.

3. School buildings are in the best condition since records began

90% of schools in Scotland were in good or satisfactory condition in April 2021 – up from 61% in April 2007.

And we want to do even more. Our £2bn Learning Estate Investment Programme will see more schools upgraded across Scotland, benefitting around 50,000 pupils.

Children using computers in school

4. Highest teacher numbers, highest starting salaries

Scotland has significantly more teachers per pupil than south of the border – with 7,605 teachers per 100,000 pupils, compared to 5,499 in England and 5,036 in Wales.

And teachers in Scotland are significantly better paid, too.

In Scotland, the starting salary for qualified teachers is £32,994, compared to £27,018 in Wales and £25,714 in England (outside Greater London).

5. Primary class sizes smallest since 2012

There are now more teachers than at any time since 2008, and this also means class sizes are smaller.

The ratio of pupils to teachers in schools is at its lowest since 2010.

6. Higher passes at record high since devolution

The number of Higher passes is at a record level since devolution began, and the number of Advanced Higher passes is its highest since they were introduced in 2001.

7. More school leavers in positive destinations

The percentage of school leavers going on to education, training or employment has increased under the SNP – from 85.9% in 2009/2010, to 92.2% in 2019/20.

The gap between those from the most deprived and least deprived areas has narrowed, and is now at a record low.

8. Free tuition, introduced and protected under the SNP

Per head of population, Scotland has the most universities in the world’s Top 200, except Switzerland.

And while students in England face tuition fees up to £27,750 – students in Scotland benefit from free tuition, which will always be protected under the SNP.

9. Record high numbers of students go to university

A record 260,490 students enrolled at Scottish universities in 2019/20, whilst meeting our targets on the numbers of students attending from the most deprived backgrounds.

10. Tackling the poverty-related attainment gap

Since 2015/16, we’ve invested over £576 million in tackling the poverty related attainment gap.

In 2020/21, we’re investing a further £182 million – including over £120 million of Pupil Equity Funding that goes direct to 97% of headteachers.

11. Expanded free school meals

Every pupil in primaries 1 to 4 now benefits from access to free school meals, helping save families around £400 per child per year and ensuring that no child goes hungry.

And we’re going further – we will deliver free school lunches during term time to P5 children by January 2022, as well as targeted free school meals support during school holidays in 2021-22.

12. Expanded free childcare

We are delivering 1,140 hours of funded high-quality early learning and childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds, and 2 year olds who need it most.

Thanks to our transformative expanded childcare offer, families of more than 79,000 children are now saving almost £5,000 per child per year.

13. Removed music and core curriculum tuition fees

The ability to take part in music or drama should never be limited by a child’s ability to pay.

That’s why we have removed tuition fees for children learning a musical instrument at school, as well as charges for things including materials for home economics, or trips associated with drama classes.