Swinney to set out plans for reopening Scotland’s schools

The education secretary will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Scotland’s education secretary is to address MSPs on Tuesday about the return of pupils to schools.

The First Minister confirmed John Swinney will face questioning from members at her daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, subject to approval from the Parliamentary Bureau.

The statement will take place after the Scottish Conservatives pushed on Sunday for Swinney to address the Scottish Parliament.

At the briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Deputy First Minister will make a statement to Parliament – subject to agreement of the business bureau tomorrow – on our next steps on schools.

“As we have made clear, we want to get children back to education on a full-time, normal basis as quickly as possible and that is because of the importance of getting children back into education and starting the process of any catch up on education but also because we recognise that from a mental health perspective, getting children not just in school but interacting with their peers and their friends on a normal basis is really important.

“So for all of these reasons, that is our objective and we’ve been very clear about that.

Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene claimed his party forced the Cabinet Secretary into the address.

He said: “It should not have taken opposition parties to drag John Swinney and this SNP Government to Parliament to explain themselves.

“The furore surrounding the SNP’s plans for reopening schools is symptomatic of its decade-long shambolic stewardship of Scotland’s education system.

“Parents are fuming and want answers from this SNP Government.”

He added: “If it wasn’t for the Scottish Conservatives harnessing the anger of those parents and demanding this statement, Mr Swinney would be nowhere to be seen.

“The time for passing the buck is up, and we must get clarity from the SNP this week before its ministers swan off on holiday.”

Despite Greene’s claims, the First Minister indicated the statement was already on the agenda for the Scottish Government this week.

Swinney has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over plans for pupils to return to school on August 11.

Initially, the Scottish Government route map said they would do so as part of a “blended model”.

Following comments from the education secretary that schools may not return to normal for the entirety of the next academic year, the First Minister told MSPs last week the model was instead a “contingency”.

The comments have left some parents confused over how teaching will be delivered to their children when they go back to the classroom.

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