White Paper: Education, skills and employment

Education in Scotland is already almost fully devolved. The school and college system is under the control of the Scottish government and so are the funding arrangements for Scottish university students.

However, the White Paper argues the full powers of independence would make a big difference to the overall education system - especially the role of the education system in lifting people out of poverty and helping them into employment.

The document argues an independent government could join up its action to improve education with action to eradicate poverty. It says that to do that Scotland would need to take control of the tax and welfare system and the powers that influence the labour market.

As such, many of the proposals reflect what the SNP would hope to do if it forms an independent Scottish government - not the immediate consequences of independence itself.

The key points include:

  • Integrating the government's approach to education with wider social policies such as taxation and benefits to help address child poverty.
  • Extending the support available to young children and their families to expand childcare provision.
  • Transforming the childcare system to match the best in Europe.
  • In the first budget of an SNP government after independence, provision would be made to provide 600 hours of childcare a year to around half of two year olds - those whose parents receive working tax credit or child tax credit would benefit.
  • By the end of the first parliament, ensuring all three and four years olds and vulnerable two year olds were entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year - the same amount of time as a child spends at primary school.
  • By the end of the second parliament, ensuring all pre-school children aged from one were entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year.
  • The upping of hours for childcare would lead to 35,000 new childcare jobs.
  • Maintaining the current policy on university tuition fees - free tuition for Scottish students studying in Scotland but charging fees for students from the rest of the UK.
  • Maintaining a "common research area" across the UK to ensure there are no barriers to collaborative research between universities.
  • Negotiating with the Westminster government a fair funding formula for the Scottish government to contribute to the funding of university research councils.