It is now less than a week until voters head to polling stations on May 6 to decide who they want to represent them in the next term of the Scottish Parliament.

This week, the Ayr candidates talk about education.

Scotia Future - Chic Brodie on Education

Ayr Advertiser: Chic Brodie Chic Brodie

Government has failed not just our pupils but all education professionals and its failure to release the OECD report on Scottish Education creates suspicion.

Time now to return more authority on education to local communities and to those who run our schools.

We want to see school as more than just learning which is only part of the education syndrome. We should be part of an international view that education is more than the isolated learning of subjects or reading, writing arithmetic but embraces everything else that goes on around our world.

Schools in places like Singapore develop, as one school in Scotland is now reported as doing, under an International education curriculum i.e. developing creative problem solvers and doers. We’d streamline primary school curriculum to reduce bureaucracy. 

Scotia Future wants to create parity of esteem between vocational education and Senior Pathways and specialisations in other facets of education like sport and the arts. We wish to attract more male primary school teachers.

There’s a whole raft of actions required from reducing class sizes, to more and better paid staffing, but the importance is to ensure decisions are made locally. We can compete internationally if we are serious about it.

Scottish Liberal Democrats - Jamie Ross on Education

Ayr Advertiser:  Jamie Ross Jamie Ross

Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first. And at the heart of the recovery must be education.

There is a lot to be proud of in Scottish education. Teachers and learners adapted, worked hard and found a way forward.

Sadly they were often badly let down by the Scottish Government and their education bodies who set up a dreadful exam system, issued guidance late, failed to deliver digital devices and bound everyone up in bureaucracy. 

Scottish Liberal Democrats have been constructive throughout the pandemic. We secured an extra £80 million for education in the Scottish budget, opposed John Swinney’s exams algorithm, and helped secure mass asymptomatic testing to make the school day safer. 

It has been a time of great disruption and worry. And it’s going to take time for education to bounce back from that. It will require focus on what children and young people really need. Making every hour spent in school count for more.

With the Scottish Liberal Democrats there is a chance for change. 
We have proposals for every stage and every age. To get a good start in life, to excel at school and to help people retrain if they need to later in life.

Scottish Labour Party - Esther Clark on Education

Ayr Advertiser: Esther ClarkEsther Clark

Education has been mismanaged over the past 14 years under the SNP. 
The curriculum is too narrow, the standards have dropped, and our young people are being let down. 

Teachers have done a great job but are handcuffed by bureaucracy, centralisation and poor decision making that is politically driven. 
Some blame COVID for this situation but that’s not true. 

These problems have been growing from the very start of the ill-fated Curriculum for Excellence change which the SNP brought in and failed to implement properly.

Labour has a plan to sort out this dire situation through a catch-up programme that invests in the heart of schools and delivers high quality IT support in every primary and secondary school.

A vote for Scottish Labour will mean a better education service for our children and young people; better choice, better support and better success.
I would urge all families, parent and grandparent to vote Labour to create a better life and future for the next generation.

Scottish National Party (SNP) - Siobhian Brown on Education

Ayr Advertiser: Siobhian Brown Siobhian Brown

The SNP have ambitious plans to improve education and tackle the attainment gap. The COVID Pandemic has highlighted digital inequality and the SNP will end the digital divide, giving a free laptop or tablet to every school pupil, with free internet connection.

We are determined to give every child in Scotland the best start in life, with 1,140 hours of free early learning already rolled out in South Ayrshire. 

We will support working parents by providing “wraparound childcare” – year-round before and after school. We will also tackle classroom hunger with universal free school meals for all primary pupils. We’ll recruit 3,500 additional teachers and classroom assistants.

We will also establish a National Digital Academy so everyone can study for Highers – all subjects, any time, any place and any age. Scotland has some of the world’s best universities, free from tuition fees under the SNP.

We will always keep education a right, not a privilege. And not just education – but a guaranteed job, apprenticeship, or training with our Young Person’s Guarantee. So if you want more teachers, free tuition, and the best start for young people, you’ve got to vote for it. Make it both votes SNP on Thursday May 6.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party - John Scott on Education

Ayr Advertiser: John ScottJohn Scott

Education standards in South Ayrshire schools is good, but we must always look for ways to make it even better – we owe the next generation the best chance to succeed.

As the MSP for Ayr, I have supported increased invest-ment in local school buildings and will continue to do so. I also want to see the school workforce boosted, so will support an increase nationally of 3,000 more teachers over the next parliament, to provide more opportunities for new entrants to the profession and a fairer deal for teachers on temporary or supply contracts.

To improve participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, I support introducing a dedicated STEM teacher in every primary school.

To help tackle inequality, I support the introduction of free school breakfasts and lunches for all primary aged children, no matter their family circumstances.

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our children’s learning and a long-term catch up programme is needed to help many of them. I therefore support a wide range of measures to help pupils with that catch-up, including funding a ‘catch-up’ premium for schools, providing a national tutoring programme and investment in additional mental health training.