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Deputy First Minister’s commitment to diversity and equality in education

Thursday 19 January 2017

swinney-mainbody-2Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney delivered the keynote speech at a national conference on equal opportunities in education at the University of St Andrews today.

In his address to leading education figures Mr Swinney said diversity is about recognising and valuing difference, where everyone is respected for who they are; and equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone can take part, and where everyone has the opportunity to be all that they can be.

Mr Swinney said: “I am delighted to be speaking at St Andrews University, one of Scotland’s leading universities, on the very important issues of embedding equal opportunities, excellence and equity for all learners. 

“The Scottish Government is already committed to these important matters and this event offers the opportunity to reinforce with Further and Higher Education representatives the need to ensure that all learners are enabled to take up opportunities to benefit them. 

“We are committed to delivering a Scottish Education system that allows all of our children and young people to reach their full potential in learning, in work and in life. Our focus within education is on ensuring both equity and excellence and we already have in place a range of actions to support the achievement of this aim. 

“If you look at our policies that underpin school education in Scotland – including Curriculum for Excellence; Additional Support for Learning; Getting it Right for Every Child – you will see diversity and equality at their hearts.

“Diversity which is about recognising and valuing difference, where everyone is respected for who they are; and equality, which is about creating a fairer society where everyone can take part, and where everyone has the opportunity to be all that they can be. You will see policies from this Government which are designed to serve an increasingly diverse school population living in an increasingly diverse Scotland.”

During the conference, attended by the new Commissioner for Fair Access Professor Sir Peter Scott, delegates from across the education sector debated the subject of equal opportunities in education in a globalised worldand exchanged best practices, ideas and information about widening participation in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has set a range of targets for widening access to higher education including ensuring that pupils from the 20% most deprived areas make up 20% of higher education entrants by 2030.

St Andrews Principal Professor Sally Mapstone, who hosted the event, said: “Education is transformative; it takes you somewhere new, intellectually, culturally, physically, and professionally, and it can go on doing that throughout your life.

“No one should through disadvantage be prevented from accessing those opportunities.”

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Notes to news editors

On 5 January Universities Scotland announced that Professor Mapstone would be leading the key admissions work stream as part of the next stage of the widening access agenda as delivered by the Scottish university sector.

Photo caption (L to R): Professor Sally Mapstone, John Swinney, Professor Sir Peter Scott

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 467310/2530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.