Education’s key role in post-Covid recovery - Iain Gray MSP
This week was a pivotal week in the pandemic response as we heard indicative dates for the easing of lockdown restrictions from the First Minister.
While most of these are still some way off, all primary pupils returned to school full time, and all secondary school pupils for at least a short period.
We have to hope that this is the start of a permanent return to some kind of normality, but even if it is, we have to address the impact of the last year. We cannot just cross our fingers and hope everything will be OK.
That is why when Anas Sarwar delivered his first major speech since becoming leader of Scottish Labour he focused on proposals for an education recovery, including a ‘personal comeback plan’ for every pupil in Scotland on a needs-based assessment, and a tutoring programme for all ages and all pupils.
Scottish Labour will also call for a resit guarantee of a free place at college to take national qualifications should this be the chosen path of any pupil affected by Covid.
A ‘summer comeback’ programme will ensurechildren can enjoy themselves in the coming months, with resources for national youth, arts and outdoors organisations, school trips to activity centres and free access to sport, transport, outdoor activities and culture.
This is one element of Labour’s ‘national recovery plan’ for Scotland will be the centrepiece of the party’s campaign for the election in May, a plan that will consist of five themes: a jobs recovery; an NHS recovery; an education recovery; a climate recovery; and a communities recovery.
Recovery is exactly what this election should be about, and it should be the focus of the next parliament after that election. Having given so much to suppressing covid 19, and all the efforts of vaccination, we have to stick to the rules for a bit longer and then concentrate on rebuilding for some time to come.
Iain Gray is Labour MSP for East Lothian