Scottish Tories back extension to school day to help pupils catch up

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

Leader Douglas Ross said his party would be “totally focused” on helping pupils, fixing local roads and protecting services, while keeping council tax rises low.

His local election manifesto said Tory councilors would pressure the Scottish Government to “fund a pilot extension to the school day, to further help pupils to catch up on missed learning”.

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It comes ahead of the council elections next month.

Mr Ross’s launch event in Glasgow was disrupted by notorious activist Sean Clerkin, who harangued the Scottish Tory leader about the cost of living crisis.

Mr Clerkin, who has a history of controversial stunts, dubbed him “Mr Three Jobs Ross”, a reference to his roles as an MSP, MP and football referee.

In a minute-long tirade, he also insisted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak should be forced to resign over partygate, before being ejected from the room.

The controversy over the ends dished out to Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak had threatened to overshadow the launch of the Tories’ local election manifesto.

Mr Ross argues it would be wrong to remove the Prime Minister from office during the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at Glasgow’s Courtyard by Marriott hotel beside the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), he denied Mr Johnson was the biggest threat to the UK union.

His party’s manifesto said its councilors would “work to set up a local tutoring scheme” and “provide additional funding for after-school classes”.

It backed extra payments to teachers who deliver additional revision sessions in the run-up to exams and for pupils who need more assistance.

The party also wants to “begin a national conversation” around replacing the Curriculum for Excellence.

Elsewhere, the Tories pledged to “keep council tax increases as low as possible” and freeze the tax “when budgets allow”.

Other policies include removing charges in council-owned car parks “for set times at weekends” to support local shopping, opposing workplace parking levies and introducing business rates “discount schemes” for firms in town centers and high streets.

The manifesto also said Scottish Conservative councils would set aside “local pothole action funds” to give communities the right to request repairs to local roads.

Mr Ross said: “Our manifesto includes plans to rebuild local services, help local shops and high streets recover from the pandemic, and restore Scotland’s schools.

“It’s a manifesto that the silent majority of pro-UK voters can get behind to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon for her 15 years of failing Scotland.

“A vote for any other party could lead to a deal that will put the SNP into power in your local area.”

Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said the Tories were “going to increasingly absurd lengths to take Scotland’s education system back a hundred years”.

He said: “Time in school wasn’t the only thing our children missed due to the pandemic, they also lost out on social opportunities, especially with friends and family.

“Forcing them to spend more time in school at the expense of the myriad of other things which bring joy in their lives would be a disaster for the mental health of an already struggling generation.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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