Scotland Election 2016

Leaders highlight education policies in Holyrood campaign

Leaders collage

Scotland's politicians used their education and schools policies as a campaigning platform while out on the Holyrood election trail.

Party leaders were out and about from the Borders to Stornoway as they highlighted their education policies with two weeks to go until May's election.

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP

Image caption Ms Sturgeon said education was her top priority

Nicola Sturgeon said raising educational attainment should be the next government's "number one priority" while campaigning in Dumfries.

The SNP leader said if re-elected as first minister, she would seek to give parents and teachers a greater say over key decisions in schools.

Ms Sturgeon said she wanted every child in Scotland to have "the benefit of a world-class education".

She said: "The most significant investments the SNP will make in the next term will be in our young people. From the earliest years until adulthood, improving Scotland's education system should be the number one priority of the next Scottish government."

Kezia Dugdale, Labour

Image copyright Scottish Labour / Twitter
Image caption Kezia Dugdale visited the Harris Tweed mill in Stornoway

Kezia Dugdale challenged Ms Sturgeon to match her pledge to protect schools, colleges and universities from cuts.

Campaigning in Stornoway, the Scottish Labour leader said the SNP manifesto had not committed to above-inflation increases in the education budget.

She said: "In her manifesto yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon offered protection for the NHS budget, but not for education.

"This is not a technical detail - if the SNP leader does not make this commitment in simple terms, it means she plans to cut education spending in real terms."

Ruth Davidson, Conservatives

Image caption Ms Davidson visited a nursery in Edinburgh

Ruth Davidson said there would be "more money in the system" for education under her plans.

Visiting a nursery in Edinburgh, the Scottish Conservative leader said ending the council tax freeze would allow local authorities to spend more on schools.

She also said any increases in the devolved budget as a result of rising education spending in England should be allocated to Scottish education.

The Tories want to free up extra cash for further and higher education by charging university graduates a contribution towards the cost of their tuition.

Willie Rennie, Lib Dems

Image copyright Scottish Lib Dems / Twitter
Image caption Willie Rennie campaigned alongside Lib Dem activists in the Borders

Willie Rennie called for the "immediate publication" of a national survey of schools attainment in Scotland, accusing the SNP of "jiggery-pokery".

The Scottish Lib Dem leader said the results of the annual Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy are usually published in March or April, but this year have been put back until 31 May - after the Holyrood election.

Mr Rennie said: "It seems convenient that we're being expected to wait more than a month longer than ever before to get sight of the most up-to-date statistics on literacy and numeracy. But that is the kind of jiggery-pokery we've come to expect from the SNP.

"The results of the last two of these surveys have shown overall literacy and numeracy standards are slipping and the attainment gap is widening."

Sarah Beattie-Smith, Greens

Image copyright Scottish Greens / Twitter
Image caption Ms Beattie-Smith joined Green campaigners at the beach near Dunbar

Sarah Beattie-Smith joined activists in Dunbar to discuss environmental policies.

The Green transport and infrastructure spokeswoman underlined her party's commitment to protecting Scotland's "natural treasures" while campaigning alongside party activists.

She was marking John Muir Day, which celebrates the life and work of the Scottish-born naturalist and conservationist.

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