This week, memos between Scottish Government officials and the Education Secretary have been published indicating that subject choice had been reduced across the entire senior phase from S4 to S6.
This comes after news earlier that, last year, no state schools in the Borders offered S4 students more than six subject choices.
In the correspondence from 7 months ago, Scottish Government officials told the Education Secretary, John Swinney, that pupils were taking fewer subjects now than prior to the Scottish Government’s curriculum changes.
However, after receiving the analysis, both the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney continued to insist that subject choice had not been reduced and the problems were only limited to S4.
Scottish Government officials wrote in internal briefings that “A range of data and information confirms that there are, on average, fewer subjects taken by pupils now than was the case prior to the introduction of CfE and the new qualifications.”
Critics have argued that this may worsen the attainment gap in the Borders as privately-educated children are offered more subject choices than those attending state schools.
Civil servants said that on average, school leavers entered 10 subjects in 2012/13 but as of 2017/18, they only entered 8 subjects.
South Scotland MSP, Michelle Ballantyne, has claimed this stems from the Scottish Government’s failure to recruit teachers. Earlier this year, nearly three-quarters of schools reported problems with recruiting teachers.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“Scottish Government officials told John Swinney exactly what was going wrong in our schools but he has spent months ignoring the evidence and pretending that all is well.
“Nicola Sturgeon has told us to judge her on her record on education. Sadly, this would make for a very poor report card.
“This SNP Government is ignoring the advice of their own civil servants, education experts and Holyrood’s education committee. Meanwhile, it is our children in the Borders who will lose out.
“The Scottish Government needs to stop denying the problems in our education system and start taking action to fix it.”