Brexit updates and subject choices at secondary school

On Wednesday afternoon in the chamber, all eyes were on the First Minister, as she made a statement on the implications for Scotland of recent Brexit developments.

On the issue of when she thought that people in Scotland should be offered a new choice on independence, she had this to say:

“To rush into an immediate decision before a Brexit path has been determined would not allow an informed choice to be made. However, if we are to safeguard Scotland’s interests, we cannot wait indefinitely. That is why I consider that a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered later in the lifetime of this Parliament.”

She set out the steps that the Government now intends to take, including the introduction of legislation

“to set the rules for any referendum that is, now or in the future, within the competence of the Scottish Parliament”,

which the Government aims to have on the statute book

“by the end of this year.”

In committee considerations, too, Brexit was prominent, with the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee focusing on the implications for the waste and chemicals sectors; the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee receiving an update from the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, on various agriculture and fisheries matters; and the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee hearing from the Government’s Michael Russell on the article 50 withdrawal negotiations.

On Wednesday morning, the Education and Skills Committee held its second session in its subject choices inquiry. Some of the evidence that was presented on the reduction in parts of Scotland in the number of subjects that pupils can study at secondary 4 level was cited by Jackson Carlaw at Thursday’s First Minister’s question time, who set it in the context of Reform Scotland’s report, “National 4 and 5s: The accidental attainment gap”. The First Minister responded by pointing out that the senior phase in school does not consist only of S4 and highlighting statistics that show improved performance at level 5 and above. You can read the exchange in full here.

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