Mon 30 Apr, 2018

We need to restore education funding back to pre-austerity levels and look beyond education at other policies that impact on poverty and deprivation, for example in social security. Ross Greer MSP

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer MSP today (30 Apr) called on Education Secretary John Swinney to stop "blindly storming ahead" with unwanted changes to how schools are run, after yet another consultation showed widespread opposition and scepticism towards the proposals. 

This is the third consultation the government has undertaken on education governance reform. Responses to previous consultations showed widespread opposition to reforms by a variety of stakeholders involved in education, including teachers, trade unions, parents associations, local councils and expert bodies such as the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Concerns raised in the latest consultation included the effect of loading more responsibilities onto headteachers, which “could increase headteachers’ workloads and lessen their focus on their core role of leading learning and teaching,” that “the establishment of RICs [Regional Improvement Collaborations] would lead to an additional and unnecessary layer of administration and bureaucracy” and ‘to cuts in spending on education and increase bureaucracy for headteachers.’.

Ross Greer MSP said:

“Despite their best efforts to construct a consultation which will return responses favourable to their plans, the Scottish Government has again been faced with the reality that their proposals are not needed, not wanted and not popular with teachers, parents or pupils. The SNP is blindly storming ahead with a cack-handed response so it can be seen doing something, rather than face up to the reality that it is their financial decisions, taken over the last decade, which have left our schools facing such huge challenges.

“The real barrier to closing the poverty-related attainment gap in Scottish education is the years of austerity which have led to 3,500 fewer teachers since the SNP came into government in 2007. We need to restore education funding back to pre-austerity levels and look beyond education at other policies that impact on poverty and deprivation, for example in social security. Now that the Scottish Parliament has greater powers over taxation and welfare spending, we must use them to the greatest extent possible to tackle poverty and the attainment-gap in Scottish schools. These governance reforms are at best an unwelcome distraction from that vital work.”

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Mr Greer raised the matter at First Minister’s Questions today, asking whether there would be a debate before the end of the year, a question the First Minister failed to directly answer. This follows a similar refusal to answer from the Education Secretary during an opposition-led debate yesterday.

Ross Greer MSP said: