Stewart Maxwell MSP

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Member of the Conveners Group

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Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

I will try to come on to teacher numbers in a moment, if the member will excuse me.

One of the recommendations in the final report from the commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce is on STEM education. The report says that

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

and it calls for long-term partnerships to be established among schools, colleges and employers to bring about significant change. The Scottish Government is committed to implementing the recommendations of that commission, so it has already agreed to take forward the very recommendation on STEM education that many people have called for.

We all understand that the underrepresentation of women in STEM subjects is a serious problem that has to be addressed, but the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning has said:

“There is no such thing as ‘a girl’s job’ or ‘a boy’s job’ and any perception that such unhealthy boundaries still exist need to be changed, whether they’re held by employers or young people exploring their career options.”

In fact, the letter of guidance that was issued to the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council on 31 July 2014 by the former education secretary, Mike Russell, said:

“I want a renewed focus on reducing gender segregation in participation: too many college and university courses are dominated by either men or women”.

Action is being taken. Of course it is not quick enough and it does not have an immediate impact in bringing about some of the changes that we want to see, but the issue has been recognised by the Scottish Government and efforts are being made to reverse some of the trends.

On students who take science, last year there was an increase in higher entries in all three of the main science subjects—biology, chemistry and physics—and pass rates are holding up very strongly. As I said earlier, there is not the cataclysm that some have suggested.

On the issue of teacher numbers, the Deputy First Minister has of course already announced that £51 million is on offer for councils for 2015-16 to protect teacher numbers. I will not quote the head of the Educational Institute of Scotland, but at a meeting of the Education and Culture Committee earlier this year and in news reports he made very clear his view about the actions of individual councils and their responsibility for keeping up teacher numbers.

A deal was struck on teacher numbers, but it takes two to tango. The Government made sure that it held up its side of the bargain, and it is about time that some of our local authorities held up their side of the bargain on teacher numbers. If they did, maybe we would not have some of the problems that we are facing with teacher numbers declining.

16:20  

Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Stewart Maxwell (West Scotland) (SNP)

I am very well aware of the concerns that are raised in Liz Smith’s motion. The Education and Culture Committee has taken evidence on the matter. On the back of the work by the learned societies group, we asked it to come in and give us evidence on the particular issue, so we are very well aware of it and, of course, of the debate that Iain Gray sponsored a few weeks ago. Therefore, we are well aware of the situation—and some of the comments do not reflect the reality of it.

I do not accept at all what Iain Gray has just said and what others have said about some sort of cataclysm going on in Scottish schools with regard to science. The Scottish Government is investing in science education. For example, it is providing some £900,000 per annum to the Scottish schools education research centre to support the professional learning of teachers. That is important because that funding stream includes a programme that is focused on primary teachers to raise their confidence and skills in science, so it directly addresses some of the issues that others have raised.

The Government’s programme for government for 2014-15 states that the Government will

“Continue to support improvement in the learning and teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in schools, with a particular focus on primary schools”.



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

I thank the panel for coming along—I was going to say “this morning”, but it is now the afternoon. Thank you very much for your time and your evidence. We will have a lot of things to consider in relation to the bill. For everybody’s information, we will consider the bill next on 17 March, when we will take evidence from the Scottish Government and from the member in charge of the bill, Mark Griffin.

Meeting closed at 13:02.  

Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

What you say about exemplary services might be true, but my experience is that, across the board, not many people come to me as an MSP to talk about exemplary services. It might not be the case that we hear about that end of the spectrum.

My final question, which I asked of today’s other panels, is fairly straightforward. Would there be advantages in moving to a five or seven-year cycle for the national plan as opposed to the timeframe that is laid out in the bill?



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

No—I am asking about collective consultation.



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

I will follow up Professor Dunbar’s point on consultation. The Scottish Government has suggested that the BSL national advisory group could undertake collective consultation on authority plans for a number of reasons, not least because the Government is slightly concerned about the pressure on individuals and groups to provide advice and to review the plans. What are the panellists’ views on that suggestion?



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

Professor Dunbar, you are well aware of the process that was undertaken when we considered the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill and implemented it as an act. From your experience, will you give us some background knowledge on how plans were introduced, on whether the development of those plans was a particularly onerous process for the bodies that had to produce them and on ministerial responsibility and national advisory boards, which we have just discussed?



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

We have to move on, because we have a lot of questions to get through in virtually no time at all.



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

I will have to ask members and panellists to be brief, if at all possible.



Education and Culture Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Convener

Thank you. I will bring Siobhan McMahon back in. I interrupted you, Siobhan.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
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YesCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
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NoDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
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YesCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
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NoDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Stewart Maxwell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12455: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12418: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12417: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12416: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12148: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11995: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11504: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11165: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10707: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10706: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Stewart Maxwell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24173: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22399: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03431: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21992: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03221: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20253: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03026: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02919: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/02/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02768: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-18683: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2013 Show Full Question >>