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Summary

  1. The Connectivity Committee takes evidence on the digital strategy from Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing
  2. Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by opposition MSPs during first minister's questions
  3. NHS waiting times, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and connectivity are raised during general questions
  4. Education and skills ministers are in the hot seats for portfolio questions

Live Reporting

By Colin Bell and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live until next week

    Ballot box

    That's an early bath for all the MSPs, although I suspect some frantic leafletting will be taking place before that.

    We're back next Tuesday, don't forget to vote tomorrow. 

  2. Question on North Ayrshire class of 2016

    SNP MSP Ruth Maguire asks what percentage of school leavers in North Ayrshire in 2016 continued in education, went on to training or entered employment. 

  3. The education secretary says there has been no such reduction in places

    Teacher

    Mr Swinney says no such reduction has taken place.

    Mr Fraser says that is an interesting response and he says universities are facing difficulties in training places.

    He calls for the shortage of teachers to be addressed.

    The education secretary says there has been no reduction of 62% in the target number of primary postgraduate diploma in education places in the time frame quoted.

  4. Reduction in primary postgraduate diploma in education places

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser asks for what reason there has been a 62% reduction in the target number of primary postgraduate diploma in education places between 2017-18 and 2018-19.  

  5. Importance of extra-curricular activities

    Education Secretary John Swinney

    Education Secretary John Swinney says he wants all children to be as fully engaged in their learning as they can be.

    Mr Whittle says Reform Scotland have highlighted the importance of extra-curricular activities.

    The Tory MSP says many local authorities are charging for these activities making it harder to close the health inequality gap.

    The education secretary says he generally agrees with Mr Whittle's point.

    He says there is a sensitive balance to be struck in the level of government involvement in this.

  6. Background: Scottish children 'among least active'

    Boy using tablet

    In November we reported that Scotland had been placed joint last in an international study of physical activity among children.

    The research found that Scotland had one of the best environments and infrastructure for outdoor play among the 38 nations that took part.

    But it was ranked joint worst for exercise, and for the amount of time children spend in front of screens.

    The study found parents were often reluctant to allow children to play outside.

    Competition from sedentary and screen-based activities was also a major factor.

  7. Participation in extra-curricular activities

    Tory MSP Brian Whittle asks whether the government will provide an update on what action it is taking to ensure that all pupils can participate in extra-curricular activities irrespective of background or personal circumstances.

  8. 'I value enormously the role of school libraries'

    School library

    Mr Swinney says the Scottish government is taking a wide range of action to improve literacy rates.

    Ms Lennon says a report in the Times said pupils were facing a post-code lottery in terms of access to library services.

    The education secretary says: "I value enormously the role of school libraries."

  9. Literacy rates question

    Labour MSP Monica Lennon asks whether the government will provide an update on what action it is taking to improve literacy rates.

  10. Swinney says books and articles necessary for pupil must be provided by education authorities

    John Swinney

    Mr Swinney says education authorities have a duty to provide books, writing materials, stationary and other articles that are necessary for pupils to receive free eduation.

    The education secretary says the statute could not be clearer on this.

    He says a very strong settlement has been given to Highland Council and he highlight pupil equity funding.

  11. Background: Education must not be 'political football'

    Pupils

    Scotland's largest teachers' union has said education must not be used as a political football in council elections.

    But the EIS said there should be a proper discussion on education.

    The union is publishing a manifesto and is calling on voters to question candidates about local education.

    Some have expressed concern local issues could be overshadowed by Brexit and the possibility of another independence referendum.

  12. Question local authority requirements

    SNP MSP Kate Forbes asks what requirements local authorities have to provide children with the basic tools of learning at school.

  13. Guidance to be published when Equality and Human Rights Committee completes bullying investigation

    John Swinney

    Education Secretary John Swinney says the guidance will be published when the Equality and Human Rights Committee completes its investigation into bullying. 

    Mr Leonard asks if the cuts to support teachers will help or hinder the delayed anti-bullying strategy. 

    Mr Swinney says the strategy has not been delayed and could have been published "months ago".

    He says it was delayed at the request of the committee.

  14. Background: LGBT bullying at 'high rate' in Scotland's schools

    Pride flag
    Image caption: The charity said strong leadership on LGBT bullying was needed from schools and local authorities

    In November we reported that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pupils are still experiencing high rates of bullying in schools, according to campaigners.

    LGBT Youth Scotland said the pupils were also not confident about reporting abuse to staff.

    The charity called for strong leadership from schools and local authorities on the bullying.

    The Scottish government said a new anti-bullying strategy had been developed with LGBT organisations.

  15. Anti-bullying strategy

    Labour MSP Richard Leonard asks whether the government will provide an update on when it will publish a new anti-bullying strategy for schools. 

  16. Supply teacher numbers falling

    Tory MSP Liam Kerr says supply teachers are often used when teachers are absent but supply teacher numbers are falling.

    Mr Kerr asks what is being done about this.

    Mr Swinney says registered teachers who are not currently active are being contacted. 

    The education secretary says there is a systemic challenge in recruiting teachers which does not only apply to Scotland. 

  17. Labour MSP asks how far will the education system fall before the government acts?

    Education Secretary John Swinney says the government is taking action to recruit teachers and targets are being set to train teachers.

    Mr Swinney says a recruitment campaign has been launched in order to increase applications to universities. 

    Ms Grant says none of this is working because there is still a high number of vacancies.

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
    Image caption: Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

    "How far will the once excellent education system fall before the government acts," she asks. 

    Mr Swinney says the government is acting to address issues and quite clearly there are shortages. 

    The education secretary says he disagrees that headteachers should not be operating across more than one school if the correct support is in place. 

  18. Background: Government funds 371 new teacher training places

    Teacher and pupils
    Image caption: The Scottish government said the number of training places available would rise by 371 to 3,861

    Hundreds more teacher training places are to be made available at Scottish universities from September.

    Education Secretary John Swinney said the number of places would rise by 371 to a total of 3,861 at the start of the next academic year.

    Mr Swinney said the places would be funded by more than £3m of Scottish government cash.

    The announcement follows criticism from political opponents over falling standards in Scotland's schools.

  19. Question on teacher vacancies

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant asks what measures the government is taking to ensure that schools can fill teacher vacancies. 

  20. Guidance provided to local authorities on nutrition

    Education Secretary John Swinney
    Image caption: Education Secretary John Swinney

    Education Secretary John Swinney says there is no plans to update the guidance but there is a review in nutritional standards. 

    Ms Fabiani says she is concerned that parents complain about the nutrition of school meals and that the government provides guidance to local authorities whose responsibility it is.

    Mr Swinney says the government provides guidance and local authorities should ensure that the nutrition of school meals is in line with local needs.