Salmond defends education record

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Alex Salmond defended the performance of Scotland's schools during first minister's questions on 19 June 2014.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed a report on education in Scotland was "watered down" to remove criticisms about how well schools are performing,

Ms Lamont said concerns about a "decline in standards" of attainment levels had been included in a draft report that was prepared by public spending watchdogs at Audit Scotland, as had data showing the rest of the UK improving at faster rate than Scotland.

But she said these were not included in the final report, which was published by the Accounts Commission.

The Scottish Labour leader said: "In the final report those criticisms disappear because the Scottish government didn't want the public to know."

Alex Salmond hit back saying the Accounts Commission report showed attainment performance had improved with the "vast majority of improvements in attainment in the last five years".

"Scotland's position was declining when the Labour Party were in power but now, over the last five years in particular, this report shows attainment levels are improving," he said.

The first minister went on to say: "The most remarkable decline in standards is the decline in standards of Johann Lamont's questioning.

"We're now at the stage where we have to impune the integrity of Audit Scotland for Johann Lamont to try to make a point."

Alex Salmond then dismissed claims that he has ordered Scottish government officials to draw up a report on the costs of independence.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and her Liberal Democrat counterpart Willie Rennie questioned him on the cost of establishing an independent Scotland.

Ms Davidson demanded to know: "Has any further work been done by the Scottish Government on how much it would cost to set up any newly independent Scottish state?"

Mr Salmond told her the work that had been done on set-up costs was "contained in chapter six and 10 of the White Paper".

But Mr Rennie said the "First Minister still doesn't have a clue about set-up costs" if there is a Yes vote in September.

Mr Salmond claimed the "unionist cabal" were trying to "exaggerate the costs of an independent Scotland because they are aware week by week the Yes campaign is gaining ground".

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