Kezia Dugdale MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

I welcome the minister’s remarks with regard to the devolution of equalities. Does she support the devolution of the ability to legislate for gender quotas? If so, would she use that power?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
6. Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government how the employability fund supports women into work. (S4O-03616)



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale

I have a breakdown here of the employability fund figures. Only 861 women over the age of 25 have been able to access the fund—less than 5 per cent of the total number. The number of women who have received support in Perth, East Lothian and Aberdeenshire can be counted on one hand. How, therefore, can the Government claim success in getting women back to work when so few have received support from the employability fund?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

Will the cabinet secretary give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale

I very much agree with much of what Kevin Stewart has said. I wonder whether he has read the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on tackling the attainment gap in our schools, and whether he agrees with the report that we should support targeted funding and allocate additional resources to schools and nurseries.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

I start by paying tribute to all the teachers, support staff and education staff in our schools across the country. Their life mission is to share knowledge and to ensure that kids have the best possible start in life. They have that public service duty to do what they can to close the education gap that we are talking about today, and they go above and beyond the call of duty all the time. I know that from having two parents who were teachers.

My mum later went into local authority work in an education department and, later in her career, built schools and nurseries. I remember her coming home one day quite upset about the extent of the child poverty challenges in Dundee, where she was involved in building a nursery. The child poverty in that particular part of Dundee was so extreme that it was common for the majority of kids to turn up hungry, tired and dirty in the morning. The mission for that nursery school was first to feed and wash the kids, and to let them sleep. Only after that were the teachers in a position to teach the kids and give them the opportunity to learn. My mum was struggling with the concept of putting fast and powerful washing machines into nurseries as standard equipment because it meant that there was a presumption that the kids needed that facility. What a damning indictment of the level of child poverty in this country that is.

That story demonstrates how the gap in education equality begins. I agree with the SNP that that cannot simply be addressed between the times when nursery or school gates open and close. The cabinet secretary is right to talk about the damage that the UK Government’s welfare policy is causing, but we are not powerless to act. We will therefore support the SNP amendment tonight, and will do so in the spirit of critical friendship.

I turn to the Conservative motion. I was sorry that we did not hear more from Liz Smith about parental choice, greater diversity in schools and strong leadership. That was partly because she had to work so hard to defend her Government’s record on child poverty and the damage that her Government is doing with its welfare agenda. I would have liked to have heard more about those issues because I would like a better understanding of what she means when she raises them.

Let us take parental choice. Liz Smith said that the schools around the world that do best at education emphasise diversity in choice. I disagree with that and offer the example of Finland. I was there earlier this year. There is no such thing as choice in the education system there because all the schools are at the same standard, and there is no suggestion that anyone would need to choose a school, because every school has the same merit and value.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale

It is not entirely to do with tax. In fact, I would say that it is everything to do with the ethos, the value that is placed on leadership and the role that teachers play in schools. For example, teachers in Finland spend less time in the classroom than teachers anywhere else in the world because they are constantly developing their skills and sharing knowledge about how to tackle the problems that we are talking about today. It is not a question of taxation; if Liz Smith would like to see further evidence of that, I invite her to go and see what I saw. I know that the cabinet secretary has a lot of similar views, in that regard.

Again, I would have liked to have heard more from Liz Smith on greater diversity in schools. I imagine that she was talking about free schools, and perhaps she has sympathy with Michael Gove’s agenda. Nobody in the Labour Party could have any sympathy with that agenda, which is why we are not in a position to support her motion.

I have some sympathy with Liz Smith on the issue of strong leadership in schools and I welcome the SNP Government’s work on that with its college of leadership. I would be willing to debate whether there is a need for more autonomy for headteachers, but let us look at school budgets. Schools are already in charge of their budgets, but the pressures on those budgets mean that there is very little flexibility for them to be spent in different ways. Liz Smith need look only at Highland Council for an example of that. It is talking about merging schools, sacking teachers and having to reduce options as a consequence of some of this Government’s financial decisions. It is a very complex picture.

I would have liked to have heard more today about the cost of school. Anne McTaggart touched on that and used her great sense of humour when she did so. There is no doubt that 70 per cent of parents say that they have struggled with the cost of school.

I was grateful that Gordon MacDonald mentioned the access to education fund, but there are problems with that. If he looks at the detail of the criteria, he will see that the fund cannot be used to subsidise costs that should be paid for by a local authority. The fund exists to fund new initiatives, not to replace funding that is being cut by local authorities. He should look at the detail of that. A maximum of 300 schools—just 8.5 per cent of all schools—can access that fund, because of the nature of the criteria. That is far from getting to the point of the problem that we face.

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to say more about care leavers, because there is a problem in respect of moving care leavers from one school to another, especially when they are facing exams. Many people who met Alex earlier today in the garden lobby would have heard about his first-hand experience of that.

I welcome the opportunity to debate education inequality. It is the first time we have done so in the chamber since January 2012; we have debated golf more regularly than we have debated it. That is something on which we should all reflect.

I have heard today that the Tories believe that inequality is the fault of the SNP’s failing education system, and that the SNP blames the Tories for inequality because of the welfare cuts. Scottish Labour thinks that they are both right.

16:41  

Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Kezia Dugdale

In the spirit of consensus, I welcome what the cabinet secretary has just said. Could he comment on the specific issue of giving care leavers a right to remain in a particular school? The collateral damage that results from having to move school often means that they cannot achieve the results that they need to achieve.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

I congratulate Christina McKelvie on securing the debate, and I note her long-term commitment to the issue. Like her, I have supported votes at 16 for a long time.

There is a need for much wider political and electoral reform on a number of issues. I am grateful to Christina McKelvie for her recent support for a campaign that I am involved in—women 50:50—which is about ensuring that all future sessions of this Parliament are balanced 50:50. At least four other members who are now in the chamber have shown their support, and I would encourage my colleagues to do so, too. The moment is now.

On the issue of votes at 16, I cannot believe, looking back, that it was ever viewed as controversial. As Christina McKelvie touched on, it seems the normal and right thing to do to give young people a voice. Christina McKelvie reflected on some of her experiences of the referendum campaign. I remember doing one street stall in the east end of Edinburgh. At about 3 o’clock, the school tipped out and we were overtaken with secondary 5 and 6 pupils from Portobello high school, desperate to ask some hard questions about the currency—“Ah, but what about X, Y and Z?”—so much so that we blocked the road. A few people on Twitter highlighted the health and safety hazards that we had created, and it all got a bit dramatic for a second.

I participated in dozens of other hustings. Without a doubt, the most invigorating were those for young people. For example, I took part in hustings that Boroughmuir high school and James Gillespie’s high school hosted. Some 700 S5 and S6 pupils were in one place grilling me and Sarah Beattie-Smith from the yes campaign on the cases for and against independence.

Saying that the best questions came from young people has the danger of sounding patronising, but that is true. I think that that was the case because young people are less likely to think about I, the individual, and are more likely to talk about we, the country, and what type of country we want to be. They have less political baggage and are more driven by the first principle of what can be done to make this country a better place.

I have not read the full report, but earlier this week I heard Professor Ailsa Henderson talking on “Scotland Tonight”, I think, about the demographics in the referendum result. I am sure that I heard her say that, when research was done into who had read the most before they came to their conclusion on how they would vote, it was found that 16 and 17-year-olds were the most informed group. I think that the evidence from the University of Edinburgh was that those in the 16-to-17 age category had done the most homework.

So what now? We have a duty to keep the political engagement alive. There is a great danger that those people, who currently have a voice, will be excluded from next year’s general election. I appreciate the sensitivities of a members’ business debate, but I have no doubt that Christina McKelvie is calling on us and David Cameron to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds have a vote in next year’s general election. I support that call; indeed, I have written to David Cameron to ask for that to happen.

There is a reason for that. If a person voted no, as I did, they did so because they believe that the best way to make our country a more prosperous, equal and just place is by working together across these isles using the resources, hopes and ambitions of 63 million people. If a 16 or 17-year-old voted no, they are now relying on other people to vote for that vision. If a person voted yes, they will be angry and disappointed. I get that, but there is a great danger that they might be disenfranchised from the political process because they, too, are voiceless without a vote.

Therefore, I back 100 per cent what Christina McKelvie is arguing for. I fully support her campaign and hope that the message to Mr Cameron from the Parliament is loud and clear. We need to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote next year.

12:47  
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
YesDefeated

 
NoDefeated

 
YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Kezia Dugdale
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11268: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10384: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10241: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10131: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09915.1: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09893: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09798: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09669: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09487: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09478: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 25/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Kezia Dugdale
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03616: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22829: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22828: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22580: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22581: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22582: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22579: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22454: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22456: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22455: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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