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EXCLUSIVE: Tories bid to bring 1,000 jobs to Aberdeen-based education agency

Oliver Mundell MSP
Oliver Mundell MSP

Scotland’s new education agency should be based in Aberdeen in a move that would bring 1,000 jobs to the city, the Scottish Conservatives will argue.

The party will announce a bid to secure the Granite City as the new headquarters of the national authority at their party conference this weekend, we can exclusively reveal.

SNP Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced last year that Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would be scrapped and replaced.

A report had strongly criticised the set up for focusing too much on exams and suggested a complete overhaul.

Oliver Mundell MSP, the Tories’ education spokesman, will make the case for the new agency to be based in the north-east.

He says having too many governmental bodies based in Edinburgh means other areas of Scotland lose out.

He says if the government takes on this idea, it could potentially create 1,000 new jobs in Aberdeen.

Scottish education needs a ‘total reset’

Speaking ahead of the conference Mr Mundell said there needs to be a “total reset” of Scottish education, and said whatever replaces the SQA needs to provide opportunities for all school pupils.

He said: “It has to be more in-tune with the challenges facing schools in the north east, my own constituency in our border region, and rural areas across the country.

“The UK Government’s Levelling Up strategy has recognised the need to move public agencies throughout the country but in Scotland, far too much of the government is based in Edinburgh.

“That needs to change or areas will continue to be left behind.

“Not only would it be better for Scottish education, it would also mean hundreds of new jobs to boost the local economy.”

He said the “benefits are clear” – and the Conservatives will now push the SNP to consider this move.

Mr Mundell will make the announcement during the restoring our schools panel at the party conference, which will be held on the main stage.

No plans to move, says government

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We will be engaging widely with partners, including education professionals and learners, on the new qualifications body.

“However, there are no plans to move staff from the existing premises in Glasgow and Midlothian.

“We are fully committed to continuous engagement with all staff affected by the reforms, and we will be drawing on the vast amounts of experience, knowledge and skills that exist with the SQA workforce when plans for the new body are being developed.

“Throughout the reform process, terms and conditions of all staff will be protected and there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“An operating model will be developed for the new qualifications organisation by winter 2022.”

Curriculum review highlights clash with ’19th Century’ exams – and here’s what else the OECD says

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