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Summary

  1. MSPs vote to recognise "serious concerns" about "fundamental failings with regard to subject choice" in schools - and call for "urgent action" to fix this
  2. The Scottish government amendment in the subject choice debate was voted down
  3. Earlier parent groups discuss the reduction in the number of subject choices with the education committee

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. MSPs call for 'urgent action' on subject choices

    MSPs jhave voted to recognise "serious concerns" about "fundamental failings with regard to subject choice" in schools - and call for "urgent action" to fix this.

    The Scottish government amendment was voted down, with 63 MSPs backing it and with 62 against.

    John Swinney and Liz Smith clash over subject choices
    Image caption: John Swinney and Liz Smith clash over subject choices

    During the debate Tory MSP Liz Smith aid schools "are offering fewer core subject choices than they were before"

    Ms Smith added pupils from the more disadvantaged communities were most likely to have fewer subjects to choose from.

    Education Secretary John Swinney argued there is too much focus on S4 and pointed out this debate was taking place before the education committee had carried out its inquiry into subject choice.

    That's all from Holyrood Live on 1 May 2019, scroll down the page for reports on a day dominated by the reduction in the number of subject choices in S4.

  2. Councils should make funding decisions on case by case basis says minister

    Children's Minister Maree Todd
    Image caption: Children's Minister Maree Todd

    Children's Minister Maree Todd tells the chamber she met with Give Them Time campaigners in December.

    Scottish government and COSLA officials have been working together since then to improve information on deferral and increase clarity around the rights of parents/carers, she states.

    The minister says it is important that local authorities listen to the campaign's concerns about childcare funding for children born between the start of the school year and December.

    If a council makes a decision not to fund an additional year of childcare, the reasons must be properly communicated with parents she argues.

    I continue to believe it is right for the decision to made taken on a case by case basis by individual local authorities, insists Ms Todd.

  3. Background: Academic analysis of early start at school

    Prof Maitles says there is evidence later entry to school can be beneficial
    Image caption: Prof Maitles says there is evidence later entry to school can be beneficial

    Henry Maitles, a professor of education at the University of the West of Scotland, says there is evidence to show that children who start school too early can struggle more than those who start later. But he says delayed starts do have an impact on classes.

    He told BBC Scotland News: ''In some classes in Scotland where there are primary 1/2 composites you could have kids at 4 and a half, and other kids starting school at 6 and a half, and that doesn't make for easy teaching."

    He said that Scotland is among a small number of countries across the world where children start at four-and-a-half. Most countries across the world start children in school at six and, in some of the most successful countries such as Sweden or Finland, they start at seven.

    He said: "There a number of parents who think we should be moving to a later start date."

  4. Background: 'Give Them Time'

    The Scottish government gives local authorities the responsibility to decide whether children - like Cara - who have an Autumn term birthday - are entitled to additional funding.

    But campaigners say decisions vary across the country.

    Patricia Anderson runs the Give Them Time campaign which wants extra funding for deferred places to be automatic.

    She said: "It can seem extremely unfair that some people just need to tick a box and they're granted that extra funding whereas others have to have nursery support, educational psychology, educational professionals at the councils.

    "It also feels very undermining of parents' rights.''

  5. Green MSP wholly supportive of the Give Them Time campaign

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone
    Image caption: Green MSP Alison Johnstone

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone says she is wholly supportive of the Give Them Time campaign.

    "Why is it the case that only 19% of parents knew about that legal right to defer children born between mid-August and December?"

    She says she was quite astonished that not all staff were aware of this legal right.

    Thanks to the campaign from Give Me Time more people now know about this, Ms Johnstone adds.

  6. 'I am convinced that four is too young to start school'

    Labour MSP Claire Baker
    Image caption: Labour MSP Claire Baker

    Labour MSP Claire Baker says the legislation is clear that a child does not have to start school until age four.

    But what we are hearing is that this policy is being implemented differently across Scotland, she adds.

    While a child can legally wait a year, a local authority does not have to provide funding for nursery says Ms Baker.

    "I am convinced that four is too young to start school," the Labour MSP states, highlight Scotland has one of the youngest start ages in Europe.

  7. Tory MSP praises campaigners from Give Them Time

    Oliver Mundell

    Tory MSP Oliver Mundell thanks and praises the campaigners from Give Them Time.

    He cites the "huge variation across the country", adding the legal rights are the same across Scotland.

    The Tory MSP says it is quite worrying that some local authorities do not understand this law.

    Mr Mundell urges all local authorities to work in the best interests of the child.

  8. Charging for pre-school after deferment is 'totally against' GIRFEC

    SNP MSP Fulton Macgregor
    Image caption: SNP MSP Fulton Macgregor

    SNP MSP Fulton Macgregor says there are two simple objectives for the Give Them Time campaign:

    1. the decision to defer starting school should be up to the parent or guardian;
    2. and parents who choose to do so should be automatically entitled to another year of nursery funding

    The vast majority of people in Scotland do not know parents have a legal right to defer children born between September and December, he explains.

    Mr Macgregor says that while parents who defer can apply for funding, it is up to councils to decide whether to fulfill such a request.

    He argues this is "totally against" the Getting It Right For Every Child agenda.

  9. Here's the motion......................

    Motion
  10. 'Give Them Time' debate

    Graduating kid

    SNP MSP Fulton Macgregor will now lead a member's debate marking the 'Give Them Time' campaign.

    This has been set up by parents across Scotland to share their experiences of applying for a further year of nursery funding for their child to defer starting P1.

    The campaign's national survey found that only 19% of parents knew about the legal right to defer children born between September and December, compared with 80% knowing that children born in January and February can be.

    He will argue deferment should be the decision of the parent or legal guardian.

  11. NEWS: Government defeated after subject choices debate

    MSPs have voted to recognise "serious concerns" about "fundamental failings with regard to subject choice" in schools - and call for "urgent action" to fix this.

    The Scottish government amendment was voted down (63 to 62).

    John Swinney and Liz Smith clash over subject choices
    Image caption: John Swinney and Liz Smith clash over subject choices

    During the debate Tory MSP Liz Smith aid schools "are offering fewer core subject choices than they were before"

    Ms Smith added pupils from the more disadvantaged communities were most likely to have fewer subjects to choose from.

    Education Secretary John Swinney argued there is too much focus on S4 and pointed out this debate was taking place before the education committee had carried out its inquiry into subject choice.

  12. Tory motion as amended is agreed to

    The Labour amendment is unanimously agreed to and the Tory motion, as amended, is agreed to with 64 backing it and with 61 abstentions.

    Motion
    Labour
  13. BreakingDefeat for government amendment

    The Scottish government amendment from the subject choices debate is defeated, with 62 MSPs backing it and 63 against.

    The Scottish government amendment
  14. 'Pupils are not being able to access the subjects they want'

    Murdo Fraser says this issue has been highlighted by Reform Scotland and evidence to the education committee over recent weeks.

    The Tory MSP accuses the SNP benches of being in denial about the fact there is a problem to be addressed.

    Mr Fraser says the majority of schools only offer six subjects and some as low as five, with deprived areas the worst affected.

    Murdo Fraser

    Mr Fraser points out: "Pupils are not being able to access the subjects they want."

    The Tory MSP tells the chamber there has been a 17,000 drop in pupils studying modern languages which won't help with exports, on the day Nicola Sturgeon announced her new export strategy.

    He says schools are struggling with the interpretation of the curriculum and he calls for a mid-term review of the CfE to be brought forward.

  15. School empowers means we must tolerate differences

    John Swinney

    Education Secretary John Swinney says if we have a system which empowers schools, we must be prepared to tolerate differences between schools.

    We have seen the creation of a broad general education where pupils have the opportunity to study subjects to a deeper level for a longer period, he explains.

    This will create challenges, he accepts, but he insists it is leading to better outcomes.

    Mr Swinney says there are issues to decide upon and suggests these must be left to educationalists.

    He says he will reflect on this issue when the education committee has completed its inquiry.