Nicola Sturgeon faces MSPs amid teacher strikes and gender reforms row

First Minister's Questions on Thursday as schools close across Midlothian and West Dunbartonshire.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing questions from MSPs at Holyrood.

It comes as teachers continue to strike across Scotland in a dispute over pay. A rolling 16-day programme of strikes is ongoing with union members taking action in two council areas each day from Monday, January 16 until February 6.

On Thursday, staff in Midlothian and West Dunbartonshire walked out.

UPDATE: Trans rapist Isla Bryson will not serve sentence at Cornton Vale, Nicola Sturgeon says

It comes after reports suggested the Scottish Government is set to step in and stop councils cutting teacher numbers.

Speculative plans have already been drawn up by Glasgow City Council to cut 800 teaching positions, with closing primary schools early on Fridays also floated as a possible way to help deal with its £68m funding shortfall.

The Scottish Government would not be drawn on the issue, but education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We have very clear commitments to improve Scottish education.

“Ministers are firm in their views that Scottish education would not be improved by having fewer teachers or less time in school.”

On Wednesday, Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay, the party’s community safety spokesman, was selected to ask an urgent question at Holyrood – specifically to ask the Scottish Government for an update on the Scottish Prison Service’s Gender Identity and Gender Reassignment Policy Review.

It came after the conviction of Isla Bryson, a transgender woman who was this week found guilty of raping two women when she was a man, known as Adam Graham.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Findlay said “even with the flawed bill in limbo, violent criminals are exploiting the system and putting vulnerable women at risk”.

But the justice secretary expressed faith in the Scottish Prison Service’s decision.

You can follow all the latest from First Minister’s Questions on the STV News website.

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