Media Lines from Education Executive Group (Thursday 11th August)

David O’Neill – COSLA President:

When Alex Salmond was returned as First Minister following the election in 2011, I always remember his “We do not have the Monopoly on Wisdom.”  On behalf of Scotland’s young people and their families I would ask the Scottish Government to remember these words when considering their position on education.  They cannot be the sole voice on one side of this crucial debate – when all other voices are giving them a different message.

All experts in the education system – both within Scotland and internationally – say that the Scottish education system is very good.  We are far from complacent and have spent a great deal of time, effort and hard cash in relation to improving the education experience for children and their families.   Of course we can always improve and I want to make sure that we do always improve but we do not improve by simply centralising and taking powers from communities.  

This is a “universal” solution to a very targeted issue.  We have our own ideas of how to address the impact of poverty and its link on outcomes for children and young people.  Local government has offered ideas on how jointly we can improve attainment and close the gap and we would urge the Government to work with us. 

David O’Neill on the £100 million

There is a clear and honourable link between taxes raised from local householders being spent on local services and this has been a Scottish tradition for generations.  The Scottish Government will destroy that link with their plans to use council tax money for a national policy.  Let's be clear - this does mean that money raised in one community will be spent in another.  All our evidence would suggest that generally people are happy to pay a little bit extra at the moment if what they are paying for benefits services in their local area.  This smashes that link.

Headteachers are valued and trusted public servants but they are not elected.  No one votes for a headteacher and nor should they.  Councillors stand for election and should be held responsible for taxes raised and money spent in their area.  Parents and communities who have concerns to raise or points to make have no democratic ability to do so under the new regime. 

Stephanie Primrose, COSLA’s Education Spokesperson:

We do not achieve positive outcomes for children and young people, particularly those living in poverty and deprivation, by acting alone or in silos.  In fact without the local links and connected services, the outcomes for those most disadvantaged could worsen.   Today, education experts who work together, came together to support the role of Local Government in ensuring that we support each child and young person on a whole person basis.  We cannot fix the impacts of poverty and deprivation only between the hours of 9am and 3pm in a classroom.

We are one local government family – in this matter, those involved in the delivery of services to young people are united whether they are service managers or the teachers and headteachers.  All of the experts that deliver education at the coal face cannot be wrong.  We are not complacent, we know things can be improved and are happy to put our collective shoulder to the wheel with Scottish Government to achieve this improvement.

I appeal to Scottish Government to listen to our joint message and to join us at this table - as we want to support the aims of the government but are concerned that these proposals will not lead to the results we all want to achieve.  We all have the same aspirations for our young people, their families and carers.

Article published: 
Fri, 12/08/2016 - 07:30