Sturgeon Sets Out Plans For Government

25 May 2016, 07:14

Nicola Sturgeon will pledge to adopt a "spirit of consensus'' as the Scottish Government attempts to make the country a "global leader in education''.

The First Minister will set out her priorities for the next five years in power in Edinburgh as she makes her first major speech of the new Holyrood term to MSPs this afternoon.

She will again stress that closing the educational attainment gap is her administration's "key focus'', but after the SNP lost its majority in the Scottish Parliament she will make clear her determination to win support for her plans from parties across the political spectrum.

Ms Sturgeon has already appointed her Deputy First Minister John Swinney as the new Education Secretary following the Holyrood elections earlier this month, and has also announced plans to convene a panel of international experts to help improve the system north of the border.

Her statement, which will be debated over two days in the Scottish Parliament, will stress that education is "simply the most important tool we have for ensuring every youngster living in Scotland today has the support they need to pursue success''.

Ms Sturgeon will pledge to work towards this with "vigour and determination'', but she will also stress her desire for consensus.

The First Minister will say: "Before the election I said that our comprehensive programme for the next five years was my job application - it is now this Government's blueprint for delivery.

"Education is the key focus, and one of the first decisions taken at the first Cabinet meeting since the election was the formation of an International Council of Education Advisers - a panel of internationally renowned experts to advise on improvements to Scotland's education system.

"I want our country to be a global leader in education through learning lessons from around the world - it is simply the most important tool we have for ensuring every youngster living in Scotland today has the support they need to pursue success.''

Ms Sturgeon will add: "This equality of opportunity will make a huge difference to the lives of individuals the length and breadth of our country; but it will also do so much more. It has the capacity to transform our country in terms of our economic performance, our health and overall standards of living and the quality of life for all of us. In short, it will create not just a fairer nation, but one that is wealthier, healthier and happier.

"That aspiration is one which I believe is widely shared across the parliamentary chamber, which is why I am focused on building support around these priorities from all sides of the political spectrum.

"I will pursue our objectives with vigour and determination, but also in a spirit of consensus so that our national parliament can help improve the lives of everyone living in Scotland.''