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Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Emma Gordon

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from BBC Holyrood Live!

    Classroom

    That's all from BBC Scotland's Holyrood Live on Wednesday 15 January 2020.

    A motion calling for a review of the initial phases of secondary education has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

    The motion, proposed by Tory MSP Liz Smith, also highlighted a report by Holyrood's education committee into subject choice in Scottish schools. The motion passed by 63 votes to 60.

    A Labour amendment, designed to voice concern over multi-level teaching, was also passed by the same margin.

    An amendment to the motion by Education Secretary John Swinney removed the call for the review, replacing it with acknowledgements of work being done by the Scottish Government to implement recommendations of an OECD report, was voted down by 60 votes to 63.

  2. Minister highlights peatland restoration cash

    Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon

    Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon highlights 2020 as Scotland's year of coasts and waters.

    "Life thrives in wetlands," she says, noting they are home to 10% of Scotland's biodiversity despite only covering 3% of land.

    Not only are our wetlands important for the range of species, but also the capacity they have for storing carbon, the minister tells the chamber.

    Ms Gougeon highlights £14m is being invested in peatland restoration by the Scottish government.

  3. Background: Funding pledge to protect Scotland's peatland

    Peatland

    Efforts to restore degraded areas of peatland in Scotland have received a multi-million pound funding boost.

    The Scottish government has announced an extra £11m in funding in addition to the £3m awarded to restoration work earlier this year.

    Scotland's peatlands store an estimated 1,600 million tonnes of carbon.

    Degraded areas are being restored by removing stands of commercial forestry and blocking drains and ditches to return them to wetlands.

    Read more.

  4. Background: What is Ramsar?

    Peatland

    The Ramsar Convention - or the Convention on Wetlands - is a framework for national action and international cooperation to conserve wetlands.

    There currently 2,375 Ramsar sites covering 253,614,951 hectares around the world.

    175 of these are in the UK, covering a surface area of 1,283,040 hectares.

  5. Background: World Wetlands Day

    World Wetlands Day

    World Wetlands Day takes place annually on 2 February.

    It aims to raise awareness of the role of wetlands for people and the planet.

    This year's theme is 'wetlands and biodiversity'.

    The Convention on Wetlands was adopted on 2 February 1971.

  6. Green MSP: More important than ever to protect our wetlands

    John Finnie

    Green MSP John Finnie says we've all seen the consequences of climate breakdown with what is happening in Australia and Indonesia, and says it is more important than ever to protect our wetlands.

    There are 2,200 sites globally, with 51 such Ramsar sites here in Scotland, a unique habitat for many species he tells the chamber.

    They provide flood control and water filtration, and peatlands store 30% of the world's carbon, he adds.

    Mr Finnie concludes by saying the Scottish government needs to listen to Scottish National Heritage, and not allow a golf course at Coul Links in Sutherland.

  7. Celebrating World Wetlands Day

    Flow Country
    Image caption: The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is Europe's biggest peat blanket bog

    Green MSP John Finnie is celebrating World Wetlands Day, taking place on Sunday 2 February.

    His motion, below, highlights biodiversity supported by wetlands, as well as the role they play in flood control and water filtration.

    That the Parliament celebrates World Wetlands Day on 2 February 2020; believes that Scotland’s wetlands are sites of important biodiversity, providing a habitat that is a unique home for a wide array of species of birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates, and provide vital hunting grounds for many other predator species; notes that these sites across Scotland are designated for their protection under the Ramsar Convention; understands that Scotland’s wetlands produce significant benefits to the overall environment and provide vital flood control and water filtration; believes that the climate emergency and continued development on these sites pose an existential threat to the future of Scotland’s wetlands and the species that call them home, and welcomes calls on the Scottish Government encouraging it to support continued and greater protection for Scotland’s wetlands.
  8. Opposition MSPs unite to back review of secondary education

    Classroom

    A motion calling for a review of the initial phases of secondary education has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

    The motion, proposed by Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith, also highlighted a report by Holyrood's education committee into subject choice in Scottish schools. The motion passed by 63 votes to 60.

    An amendment by Labour education spokesman Iain Gray, designed to voice concern over multi-level teaching, was also passed by the same margin.

    An amendment to the motion by Education Secretary John Swinney removed the call for the review, replacing it with acknowledgements of work being done by the Scottish Government to implement recommendations of an OECD report, was voted down by 60 votes to 63.

  9. BreakingGovernment amendment on education defeated by opposition parties

    Tory motion
    Image caption: Here is the successful Tory motion
    Labour amendment
    Image caption: And successful Labour amendment

    The Scottish government amendment is defeated, with 60 MSPs backing it and 63 voting against.

    Labour's amendment is agreed (63 for and 60 against).

    The Tory motion, as amended by Labour, is agreed by 63 votes to 60.

    Scottish government amendment
    Image caption: The Scottish government's amendment was defeated by three votes
  10. Concerns expressed over social security fraud investigation powers

    Green MSP Alison Johnstone expresses concern about the Social Security Assistance (Investigation of Offences) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 [draft], suggesting the investigatory powers are too broad.

    She says not everyone who has been investigated will be notified.

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville insists the powers are appropriate and necessary.

    The unintended consequences of telling clients about all investigations, particularly when no fraud is found, may cause worry she adds.

    These powers will be reviewed after two years to ensure they are not excessive the minister confirms.

  11. Closing speeches for education debate...

    Mary Fee, closing for Labour, says all the opposition parties agree that CfE is not working and adds the "crisis" in Scottish schools is the government's own making.

    "Education in SNP hands is letting young people down," she states.

    Education Secretary John Swinney accepts there are challenges in Scottish education but says there is also good performance.

    Many aspects of CfE meet the needs of learners he argues and he expresses concern about reviewing broad general education at this stage.

    Tory MSP Oliver Mundell accuses the SNP government of "delay, dither, and denial" when it comes to education.

    He says pass rates have fallen under this government, a clear downward trend, and suggests Mr Swinney was performing linguistic gymnastics when it comes to defending his record.

  12. Background: Mixed report for Scottish education in world rankings

    Classroom

    Scotland has been given a mixed report in an important piece of international research on education.

    The Pisa report measures the performance of 600,000 15-year-olds worldwide.

    Since the last report, Scotland's performance in reading has improved but it declined in maths and science.

    Education Secretary John Swinney welcomed the improvement in reading but said there were still challenges in science and maths.

    Read more.

  13. Lib Dem MSP expresses concern about Education Scotland

    Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart

    Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart says a lack of choices and a confused chain of accountability is creating a postcode lottery for education.

    There is continued confusion about the responsibilities of Education Scotland, she suggests, and it does not appear to hold enough data.

    It raises serious questions about its competence, she says.

    Ms Wishart says her party has long had concerns about the body performing both inspection and policy functions.

    It is time for the government to reconsider its opposition to establishing separate bodies for these functions, she says.

  14. Background: FMQs: Attention returns to devolved issues

    Brian Taylor

    BBC Scotland Political Editor

    At first minister's questions last week, Jackson Carlaw, the interim Tory leader, had a go at his standfast topic: Scottish educational standards.

    He rose, full of vim, ready to chide Education Secretary John Swinney for his "secret" review of Higher exam marks in Scotland.

    Did Mr Swinney bow his head, rumbled? Did Ms Sturgeon offer a general apology to Scotland's pupils, parents and teachers?

    Friends, they did not. Rather Ms Sturgeon confirmed that her deputy's conspiracy of silence had been broken. His cover had indeed been blown.

    And who was the mole? Well, it was Swinney, J. The education secretary had written, in public, to parliament's own education committee, advising them of his intention to review the Highers (where performance slipped.)

    With a faintly acidic tone, Ms Sturgeon advised her interlocutor that he might usefully do his homework before launching accusations in the media and the chamber.

    View more on twitter
  15. Green MSP: Problem denying needs to stop

    Ross Greer

    Green MSP Ross Greer joins Labour in criticising the Scottish government for not bringing an education debate, saying it should not be up to opposition parties to do it.

    Teacher recruitment and additional support in classes needs to be debated, he says.

    Affluent areas have schools which offer a greater number of subject choices at higher level, he tells the chamber.

    He adds that government agency Education Scotland needs to stop denying problems with curriculum for excellence.

    Austerity needs to be taken into account when looking at issues with the education system, he concludes.

  16. Background: MSPs call for 'urgent action' over school subject choice

    Exam hall

    Back in May 2019, MSPs voted to recognise "serious concerns" about "fundamental failings" around subject choice in schools.

    More than half of the pupils who responded to a Holyrood survey said they were not able to take all of the subjects they wanted to at school.

    And opposition members defeated the government to call for "urgent action" after a debate.

    Education Secretary John Swinney said a wide range of subjects was available, and that exam passes were on the up.

    But all four opposition parties united to reject his amendment and pass the Conservative motion for the debate.

    Read more.

  17. Unintended consequences not uniformly felt says Labour MSP

    Mr Swinney insists pupils can choose to take up new Highers at different stages of the senior phase.

    That may be the theory but it is not the reality on the ground, hits back Mr Gray.

    On multi-level teaching, the Labour MSP says "not a shred of evidence" has come before the education committee suggesting it is good for outcomes.

    Worst of all, the unintended consequences of the implementation of the curriculum for excellence are not uniformly felt, he adds.

    Mr Gray highlights schools in the least deprived areas are less likely to make use of multi-level teaching.

    He concludes by asking if the government amendment is passed, how can we can confidence in the review.

  18. Here is Labour's amendment

    As an amendment to motion S5M-20415 in the name of Liz Smith (Education), after "which highlighted significant concerns regarding subject choice in many schools" insert ", the systematic use of multi-level teaching,".