The Deputy First Minister has lambasted the “gloomy and dismal” attitude he says is prevalent among some Scottish politicians towards education.
John Swinney, who is also the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, was visiting Dundee’s Caird Hall as part of a meeting of head teachers from across the city, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Fife and the Scottish Borders.
The conference centred on how best to use the Scottish Government’s new £120 million Pupil Equity Funding scheme in order to bridge the attainment gap.
While acknowledging there was still a lot of work to be done to create an equal playing field in education in Scotland, Mr Swinney said some of the negative attitudes were excessive.
He said: “Some of the things I hear being said in the Scottish Parliament is a disgrace.
“I really am horrified by comments that are made. The way I heard education described recently was so gloomy and dismal that I had to call it out.
“Do we have challenges in education in Scotland? Yes. But there are a lot of good things that are happening too.
“We need to challenge this narrative across Scotland.”
In the latest of a series of ministerial visits to areas across Scotland to hear the views of head teachers, Mr Swinney added that education was the government’s “number one priority.”
“I believe it is an exciting time to be involved in Scottish education because there is a tremendous amount of good work going on, ” he said.
“We want to make sure that every young child can fulfil their potential in every school across the country and we believe that handing teachers the power and resources through the £120 million Pupil Equity Fund is the best way to do that.”
Kylie Watson, head of Pathhead Primary in Kirkcaldy, added: “We are very happy to have this opportunity to address the gap in our own school.
“Already we have introduced several initiatives at home and at school and having the resources helps us to do more.
“It’s all about staff relationships which means it can’t be something that’s solved from a top-down approach.”
Together with the £120 million from the fund, another £50 million has already been allocated through Attainment Scotland Funding for 2017/18.
The funds will go to over 2000 schools in Scotland that have been earmarked as priority cases.
In total, the Scottish Government has committed to contributing £750 million in the course of this parliament.