“The education I got at Dreghorn Primary and Greenwood Academy in Ayrshire was first class. My teachers were superb. The quality of my education – together with wonderful parents who encouraged me to see horizons beyond anything they had ever experienced – are the reasons that this working class girl from Ayrshire is able to stand here today as the First Minister of Scotland.

So it matters deeply to me personally that every young girl and boy growing up today – regardless of where they were born or what their family circumstances are – gets the same chances that I did.”

Mrs Sturgeon spoke with passion about children who were unable to thrive, not because of a lack of talent but because of a lack of opportunity. She reflected on comments by Billy Connolly at Jimmy Reid’s funeral when Billy recounted Jimmy talking about tower blocks in Glasgow, pointing out windows and saying – “Behind that window is a guy who could win Formula One. And behind that one there’s a winner of the round-the-world yacht race. And behind the next one … And none of them will ever get the chance to sit at the wheel of a racing car or in the cockpit of a yacht.”  Her point being that poverty often acted as a real break on aspiration. She made clear that while education could not address all the problems of society on its own it should not use deprivation in communities as an excuse to accept low aspirations from or for pupils.

“…school education – and how that relates to people’s home and family circumstances – is hugely important… While we must recognise – and address – the factors beyond the school gates, we must never, ever, become content to shrug our shoulders and accept that these factors make under -attainment in our schools inevitable for some young people…we must see school education as one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to help overcome the disadvantages associated with poverty.”

Her vision was about improvement for all with a particular focus on those underperforming. She set out two overarching priorities:

“The first is straightforward. We want to raise standards everywhere, for every pupil, in every school in the country.

And the second follows on from the first. We want to raise standards most quickly, in the areas where improvement is most needed. In particular, we want to close the gap in educational outcomes between pupils from the most and least deprived parts of Scotland.”

Mr Sturgeon argued that Scottish Education was in a good and improving place but that for it to make great strides schools needed to learn from one another. She further argued that for that to be effective there was a need for greater consistency in information gathered to support learning. She noted that 30 out of 32 local authorities used stanardised assessments but many different systems are used. That was the reasoning for developing a National Improvement Framework (more details would be released about this soon) with the basic purpose of “…providing clarity on what we are seeking to achieve and allow us to measure clearly where we’re succeeding and where we still need to do more. By doing that, it will enable us to raise standards more quickly.”

Finally, the First Minister talked about the development of an aspiration package for schools so watch this space for more information about a resource which promises to provide schools with help to support children’s aspirations and to provide “…access to experience, knowledge and networks that make them realise what they can achieve.”

If you want to watch the First Minister’s address or read the transcript visit:

https://firstminister.gov.scot/a-world-leader-in-education/