Building a New Scotland: Education and lifelong learning in an independent Scotland

This paper sets out the Scottish Government's vision for Education and Lifelong Learning in an independent Scotland.

Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

The Scottish Government is committed to making Scotland the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up. The journey towards achieving this ambition has gathered pace since the Scottish Parliament was re-established in 1999, and this paper sets out how we can go further and faster towards making this a reality in an independent Scotland.

Devolution has delivered transformational improvements in the life chances of our children and young people. We can proudly show how decisions made in Scotland have improved the lives of our young people and independence would give us the opportunity to make all decisions in Scotland, rather than leaving far too many of them to a UK Government whose actions are holding us back.

Every child born in Scotland benefits from the offer of a Baby Box, and every family in Scotland has access to the most generous offer of Early Learning and Childcare in the UK. Our schools invest more per pupil than anywhere else in the UK: we've expanded free school meal provision; we have more teachers per pupil and our teachers are the highest paid anywhere in the UK.

Our colleges and universities are amongst the best in the world. Making decisions in Scotland has allowed us to make university tuition free and has seen the number of first-time full-time Scottish degree entrants grow by 31%, with record numbers of students from our most deprived communities.

Scotland's approach to education and lifelong learning is distinctly outward looking. That is why being part of the EU and participating in truly collaborative and creative programmes, such as Erasmus+, is so important to this government, our educational institutions and of course, our students.

As we debate Scotland's constitutional future, it is vital that we continue to make sure the voices of children and young people are heard, and influence decision-making – both now, and in the future.

A Scotland where every child and young person grows up loved, safe and respected needs to be a Scotland which has the freedom to use all the levers of legislation and policy available to an independent country to deliver on its vision.

Despite the UK being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we know that too many lives are impacted by the scourge of poverty – impacting on outcomes for our children, and their future life chances. Making Scotland the best place to grow up means continuing to build on the strong action we have taken to date, including investment in the game-changing Scottish Child Payment. We know that our actions are making a difference, with Scottish Government policies expected to keep 100,000 children out of relative poverty in 2024-25, according to recent modelling.

This paper sets out just some of the opportunities open to future independent Scottish Governments. It shows the potential that can be unlocked for our children, young people and our families; the best start in life in a fair and prosperous independent nation.

Jenny Gilruth MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills



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