Lis­ten to en­sure a bet­ter fu­ture

Strathearn Herald - - STRATHEARN VIEW -

Last week, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment an­nounced its new Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment.

In pre-an­nounce­ment trails Ni­cola Stur­geon claimed that this would be the bold­est and bravest leg­isla­tive agenda since de­vo­lu­tion.

I was scep­ti­cal as l had heard this claim every Septem­ber, but I de­cided to lis­ten care­fully and l was par­tic­u­larly keen to hear what the First Min­is­ter had to say in re­la­tion to the new ed­u­ca­tion bill.

In prin­ci­ple, this is a bill to which the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives could lend sup­port but cer­tainly not in its cur­rent form. Changes will have to be made.

For many years, we have ar­gued for rad­i­cal re­form to school gover­nance to al­low head­teach­ers to have gen­uine au­ton­omy to de­cide what goes on in their own school.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, there are too many na­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment strait­jack­ets which pre­vent teach­ers from get­ting on with the job they are trained to do.

The re­cent teach­ers’ re­ac­tion to the bu­reau­cracy of the wa­tered down Named Per­son pro­pos­als is just one such ex­am­ple.

If this new ed­u­ca­tion bill was to put in place the leg­is­la­tion that would free up our school sys­tem John Swin­ney would have our sup­port but, as things stand just now, the SNP seem in­tent on hav­ing another re­gional struc­ture on top of the ex­ist­ing na­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment struc­tures and one which is ac­count­able to him.

The Cabi­net Sec­re­tary says it is only a col­lab­o­ra­tive mea­sure al­low­ing schools to take ad­van­tage of shared good prac­tice but l do not see why that ne­ces­si­tates a whole new struc­ture with new re­gional ap­pointees.

Surely col­lab­o­ra­tion can work well be­tween schools with­out that bu­reau­cracy and with the proper sup­port in place from ef­fec­tive ed­u­ca­tion agen­cies.

And on this is­sue, surely it is time to split off the school in­spec­torate from Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land.

Last week’s statis­tics which showed that the num­ber of school in­spec­tions is still de­clin­ing is just another rea­son why the change should be made.

Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land does not have time to un­der­take in­spec­tion ef­fec­tively and it should not be judge and jury at the same time.

The Pupil Equity Fund is a good idea which has strong, cross-party sup­port but it must be the head­teacher who is re­spon­si­ble for spend­ing the money and be­ing ac­count­able for the im­proved stan­dards which will hope­fully re­sult from it.

These head­teach­ers do not want na­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment breath­ing down their necks.

There are some peo­ple who ar­gue that fix­ing our school sys­tem only re­quires more money. I dis­agree. Of course money is im­por­tant but there are other is­sues at stake which are just as im­por­tant and we need to be bold if we are to make the nec­es­sary changes.

How­ever, none of this is go­ing to be pos­si­ble un­less the SNP solves the teacher short­age is­sue.

They need to en­sure there are enough teach­ers in our schools in­clud­ing those who sup­port pupils with ad­di­tional sup­port needs.

Some­times, the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives are ac­cused of be­ing ide­o­log­i­cal about ed­u­ca­tion.

I would ar­gue very strongly that our po­lices are not ide­o­log­i­cal at all but based on what works and on proven ev­i­dence.

I hope the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment starts lis­ten­ing in or­der to achieve what we all want and that is bet­ter schools for our chil­dren.

Work to be done Liz Smith MSP has called on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment – in­clud­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary and lo­cal MSP John Swin­ney – to solve the coun­try’s teacher short­age

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