September 1, 2015
On the morning of setting out her priorities for Programme for Government 2015 – 16 to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister met pupils and teachers at Craigentinny Primary School in Edinburgh.
Improving school attainment is the cornerstone of the Programme for Government. Later on that day, the First Minister announced her intention to establish a new National Improvement Framework with new standardised assessments for pupils in primaries 1, 4, 7 and in the third year of secondary school.
Nicola Sturgeon explained in her speech that the assessments will provide reliable evidence of a child’s educational progress, to provide evidence to teachers in whether their pupils are reaching the required level of attainment. Read the full speech here
The First Minister outlined the following actions for her government in the coming year:
Education and early years
• A new National Improvement Framework to identify what is working and what needs to change.
• New national standardised assessments for pupils in P1, 4, 7 and S3, to help teachers raise the standards of literacy and numeracy.
• More information about children’s progress in primary and lower secondary school.
• Improve educational attainment by delivering our £100 million Attainment Fund.
• Maintain our funded commitment to maintain teacher numbers.
• Extend eligibility for the Education Maintenance Allowances, allowing more of the poorest students to stay on in school.
• Act on the interim report of the the Commission on Widening Access to University to increase the numbers of disadvantaged children entering higher education.
• Increase backing for kinship carers with additional funding to ensure they receive the same level of support as foster carers.
Strengthening the economy
• Extend the operation of Scotland’s four Enterprise Areas and establish a fifth at BioCity in North Lanarkshire.
• A new Manufacturing Action Plan to be published this autumn.
• A root and branch review of the planning system.
• Innovation Centres to be supported with a £1 million Challenge Fund.
• Publish a new trade and investment strategy to build on export success.
• Establish new Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Brussels and Dublin.
• Invest £16 million on the implementation of our youth employment strategy.
• Deliver major infrastructure projects including the Queensferry Crossing and Borders Rail.
• Continue the progress on the AWPR, and begin the A9 dualling project.
• Publish a new Infrastructure Investment Plan setting out our plans for the next ten years and beyond.
• SMEs to be supported by a new £40 million fund providing loans of up to £100,000 and equity investment of up to £2 million.
• Use our new powers to begin to cut air passenger duty in 2018 with the aim of cutting by 50 per cent by the end of the next parliament.
A fairer Scotland
• Maintain our emphasis on fair work by abolishing fees for employment tribunals .
• Extend the duty on public authorities to publish information on the gender pay gap, reducing the threshold from 150 to 20 employees.
• Promote productivity through the new Fair Work Convention.
• Continue investment in affordable homes, exceeding our target of 30,000 to be delivered by the end of this parliament.
• Establish a rural housing fund.
• Extend Help To Buy with an additional £195 million over the next three years.
• Improve security for private tenants through the Private Tenancies Bill.
• rent controls introduced in pressure areas.
• Consult on a Social Security Bill to put in place the essential infrastructure for a new Scottish social security system.
• Make provision for the earliest possible abolition of the bedroom tax in Scotland.
• Put in place a replacement for the DWP’s Work Programme, with a new system in place by 1 April 2017.
• Oppose the UK Government’s proposed trade union legislation.
• Complete the integration of health and social care in Scotland by April 2016.
• Transform primary care by testing new models of delivery in ten sites across Scotland.
• Help GPs to develop new ways of working with district nurses, health visitors, community rehabilitation teams and health improvement services.
• Develop plans to extend the Golden Jubilee model, separating planned treatment from emergency care.
• Invest £100 million to improve mental health services, particularly for young people.
• Introduce a statutory right for people at risk of losing their voice to specialist voice equipment.
Keeping Scotland safer
• Strengthen policing in Scotland with a national review of police governance.
• Improve the accountability of police with a requirement for the Chief Constable to attend local public scrutiny sessions.
• Work with Police Scotland and the SPA to implement any recommendations from the HMICS review of call handling.
• Introduce a statutory code of practice on stop and search.
• Strengthen the law against domestic abuse and “revenge porn” through the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Offences Bill.
• Create a new, specific offence of domestic abuse.
• Implement the recommendations of the Bonomy Infant Cremation Commission.
• Improve transparency with a public register of lobbying activity through the Lobbying Transparency Bill.
• Confirm that the next Scottish Parliament election will take place in 2021 to avoid a clash with the UK general election through the Scottish Election (Dates) Bill.
• Consult on legislation to hand more power to Scotland’s island communities.
• Enact and implement the Land Reform Bill.
• Invest £20 million a year in the Empowering Communities Fund to allow community groups to help people at a local level.
• Secure agreement with the UK Government on the Scotland Bill, ensuring a fair financial settlement is put in place.