The SNP Education Scandal: Record low results in Scotland for Maths and Science

International education tests have revealed record low results for Scotland in both maths and science. 

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey reveals that Scotland’s results in maths and science are now lower than when Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister. 

The result for maths has dropped in every single PISA survey and we are now behind Latvia and Slovenia in Maths performance.
Scotland is 31st for Maths, down from 17th when the SNP came to office and 5th in 2000.

The score for science has fallen in every PISA survey since the SNP came to power and this year’s drop is the biggest since 2000 to 2003. 

In reading, the score still remains lower than the result in 2012 and well below the score achieved in 2000.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative education spokesperson, said: “This is damning evidence revealing the full extent of the SNP’s shameful 12 years running down Scotland’s schools. 

Nicola Sturgeon asked to be judged on education. This summer saw the fourth consecutive year of decline in Higher pass rates and now the SNP is presiding over the worst ever PISA results in both maths and science. In reading, where it should be acknowledged that there is encouraging improvement since 2015, the score is still lower than the 2012 result and considerably lower than the score in 2000."

“Nicola Sturgeon’s obsession with a second divisive referendum has come at a high cost to our schools."

"Performance in maths and science is absolutely vital for the future of Scotland's economy and for industries such as engineering and IT.

These results are a humiliation for the SNP and they also mean that the potential of Scotland’s economy has been tarnished." 

“After the last set of poor PISA results, the SNP said that the curriculum had to change. Yet these results are a new low and we know there have been many failings within the delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence. It is not just time to change the curriculum but also to change the government in Scotland.”


The Facts:

Maths is now at a record low. Scotland’s Maths score has dropped in every PISA survey.
Scotland is now 31st overall in Maths and just below the OECD average. England is 17th.
Scotland is now performing worse than Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Iceland and Northern Ireland.

Science is now at a record low. Scotland’s Science score has dropped in every PISA survey since 2006.
This year’s drop is the biggest since that between 2000 and 2003.
Scotland is now 29th overall in Science, in line with the OECD average. England is 13th. 
Scotland is now performing worse than Northern Ireland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Denmark. 

Reading didn’t reach 2012 levels – and is far below the 2000 and 2003 levels. 
Scotland is now 15th in Reading, just above the OECD average. England is 14th.

Score           Reading     Maths     Science

2000             526             533           522

2003             516             524           514

2006             499             506           515

2009             500             499           514

2012             506             498           513

2015             493             491           497

2018             504             489           490


*The Scottish Government says comparisons cannot be made on the scores in Maths before 2003 or in Science before 2006 because the assessment “changed radically”. However, they accept international comparisons can still be made, as they said that it is still “possible to compare changes in Scotland's performance relative to the OECD average or other countries” (Scottish Government, PISA 2015, linkScottish Government, 2009, link).


Rank                Reading        Maths       Science

2000                 6th                  5th            9th

2006                14th                 17th         14th

2018                15th                 31st          29th


Between 2000 and 2018, OECD and non-OECD countries have been added to the results. The above table includes non-OECD countries where possible. 

International PISA results in 2006 are available here:

PISA results in Scotland prior to 2018 are available here: