Elaine Murray MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Elaine Murray (Dumfriesshire) (Lab)

I will focus on two educational matters that relate to the recommendations in the Wood report. One is a novel approach that is taking place in Galloway to provide a specialist vocational and academic education, and the second refers to the Wood commission’s recommendation that STEM subjects should be placed at the heart of the development of Scotland’s young workforce.

Because of time constraints, I will not go into the history of the development of the Dumfries learning town project, but it sits well with the Wood report’s recommendations. It will involve a rolling programme of refurbishment and rebuilding of four schools in Dumfries, the alignment of primary and secondary education to create integrated schooling across the town, and the creation of Dumfries learning hub, which will complement and extend the opportunities offered by local schools and Dumfries and Galloway College. The learning hub will offer specialist learning opportunities including vocational opportunities and skills development for work, for academic learning and for life. It will offer professional development for teachers and careers guidance for students. Importantly, it will also offer learning opportunities for adults who might have missed out when they were at school.

Teaching will be done by teachers who have specialist expertise, and it is envisaged that college and university lecturers and members of the business, sports and arts and culture communities and beyond will be able to contribute to a wider definition of education than is normally understood. The input of those people will give young people a better insight into the world of work and how they can prepare for that.

That chimes with many of the recommendations of the Wood report—on the delivery of recognised vocational qualifications alongside academic qualifications, appropriate resources for preparing young people for employment, the need to involve employers and employers’ role in economic development, and the need to provide good work experience and careers guidance.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has identified a preferred site that is accessible from all four schools but which is also—importantly—close to the parts of Dumfries where there is a higher incidence of educational disadvantage. That could address education inequalities for school pupils and other members of the surrounding community.

The second part of my speech relates to recommendation 12—that

“A focus on STEM should sit at the heart of the development of Scotland’s Young Workforce.”

That is generally about an earlier part of the education system—if we do not get the foundations correct for the embedding of STEM subjects, the recommendation will not happen. The right things have to happen in schools.

The Royal Society of Chemistry published eight recommendations to coincide with this year’s science and the Parliament event in November. In its briefing for the event, the RSC noted that Scotland’s overall rating for science education shows that we lag behind many of our international competitors—indeed, we are slightly behind England—and suggests that there is a need to provide inspiring science teaching from a very early age. With that in mind, the RSC recommends that every primary school should have—or have access to, in the case of small schools—a science subject leader who is a science specialist and who can provide leadership on science teaching and support for colleagues.

A science specialist could be someone who has at least one higher or an equivalent in a science subject—they would not need to have a degree in science. The current minimum entry qualifications for primary school teaching are English at Scottish credit and qualifications framework level 6, which is a higher, and maths at SCQF level 5, which is a standard grade—there is no requirement for any qualification in science at all. That is worrying, because somebody who has had a poor experience of learning science and gave it up at an early age will not feel all that confident about teaching it to primary pupils.

The RSC is concerned about the quality of practical work in schools, following a survey of Scottish schools that was carried out in November by the learned societies group on Scottish science education. The survey highlighted dissatisfaction at primary and secondary levels with the funding for scientific equipment and consumables, a lack of teacher confidence in primary schools and a lack of technician support.

Sciences are often considered to be academic disciplines, but they are also vocational, because the practical and experimental nature of science—the knowing by doing—engages younger pupils and inspires a desire for greater and deeper understanding. In my view, there are insufficient opportunities for school students to enjoy practical work. If we agree that STEM subjects should be at the heart of developing the young workforce, we need to stimulate interest in those subjects from an early age, with teachers and opportunities to capture and stimulate children’s innate curiosity about the world around them.

This is a cross-portfolio issue. We need to focus on how we can improve both engagement with and achievement in STEM subjects from the earliest part of school education right up to colleges and universities.

16:22  

Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

I am in a bit of a quandary. I accept that a lot of progress has been made since the original order and that attempts have been made to address many of the issues. The problem for me is that I am not yet convinced that what is proposed is the best model. Professor Coyle is not convinced that it is the best model, either. It can be argued that a system that is more like the one in England and Wales might be preferable—I think that that was Professor Coyle’s preferred model.

I need the minister to convince me that there is a reason not to start again and reconsider the model. I need to be convinced that we are not settling for something inferior in proceeding with the system that the Government is proposing instead of ripping it up and starting again with a completely different model.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

Professor Coyle felt that the draft order was weaker than the existing legislation on prisoners’ capability to take things up directly.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

Would it be open to a prisoner, in discussion with a monitor, to decide that they do not want to take the official route and would rather take a more informal route?



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

Will they still—



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

There are concerns about what looks like a requirement for monitors to use the official complaints system of the SPS, although some prisoners do not have confidence in the official system. Can you clarify—[Interruption.]



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

Will that be made clear in guidance? The provision is open to the interpretation that it is putting an onerous responsibility on monitors.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

A recent addition to the monitoring duties has been the requirement to oversee the temporary release of prisoners. Will you explain more about what that means?



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

There will not be any sort of conflict between the UK-wide commission and what we want to do here. We can make that seamless.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Elaine Murray

There has been some criticism that the proposed remit of the anti-slavery commissioner might be too limited. Are issues such as protection and assistance for survivors picked up in the Scottish Government’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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YesDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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YesDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
AbstainDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Elaine Murray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11395: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11299: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11100: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11099: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11018: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10539: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09769: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09696: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09250: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09095: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Elaine Murray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23779: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23780: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03860: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23624: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23625: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03810: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23430: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23429: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23195: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03734: Elaine Murray, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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