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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Schools latest

A copy of Fiona Hyslop's letter to the Comhairle is here and here.

One Councillor described the intervention of the Minister as "inept", and reading through the letter I can see what he means.

The frosty letter implies that there may be grounds for rationalisation of the schools on the grounds of falling rolls, the PPP project and deteriorating schools, but none arise from the Curriculum for Excellence.

Er, yes, and?

Does that mean the schools should be kept open or not? We'll never know as, somewhat inconveniently, Ms Hyslop doesn't let us know what her view is. Last Thursday Mr Allan said, "There's strong support in the Western Isles for junior secondaries, and I'll be making the case for their retention." Can anyone tell us just how he made this case, as both himself and Mr MacNeil have both disappeared without trace on this issue.

The second page adds nothing to the party, with the repeated promise to find potential cost reductions (ie. cuts in the amenities in the new schools) as previously promised by John Swinney on 13 August was a bit more helpful and explicit, viz;

The Cabinet Secretary reiterated his view that the Comhairle’s hybrid model was at a stage too advanced to abandon at present, and that the Comhairle’s SPV model was very close to the Government’s proposals for “independent but still public sector” bodies such as the Scottish Futures Trust. The Comhairle has been promised intense support by the Cabinet Secretary’s officials regarding reducing the costs and complexity of the SPV, and he gave a commitment to allow re-profiling of the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) which would give a potential benefit to the Comhairle of £2m. He considers, with some justification, that the SPV model will be of service to the Comhairle in other, non-education, developments in future.

Although I'm not sure how this ties in with suggestion (since withdrawn?) by our MSP that all the plans for schools should be looked at again.

As for the last paragraph of the letter, I am unable to understand her tortuous English. Ms Hyslop seems to imply that the new build needs to go ahead regardless of anything else, and that she is surprised that the (closure?) plans have been under consideration since 2002. Perhaps if Mr Allan and Mr MacNeil had any kind of working relationship with the Comhairle, she might have had some answers rather than have to flaunt her ignorance.


Anonymous said...

hate to tell you angus but you left out an "if" in that last sentence!

Angus said...

Thank you. No jokes about fractured English, please.

Anonymous said...

Comhairle Moves Ahead On Educational Strategy

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are going out to consultation on the future of secondary education with regard to the proposed closure of Bayble, Daliburgh Sgoil nan Loch, Paible, Shawbost, Lionel and Back Secondary Schools at dates no later than June 2011.

There will also be a full review of the entire Western Isles Schools Estate in respect of primary provision.

A meeting of the full Comhairle unanimously agreed last night to proceed, reversing an decision earlier in the day by the Education and Children’s Services Committee to defer the consultation programme, pending discussions with the Scottish Executive.

Education Chairman Mrs Morag Munro said: “I am pleased that we have unanimously agreed a way forward and that we on track with the new Schools Project. We face considerable challenges ahead – most notably the state of our school buildings, the falling school rolls and the impact of the new 3-18 curriculum. We are well aware of the potential concerns of parents, communities, staff and elected members and as Members and parents ourselves we understand those concerns. However I would like to reassure everyone that our aim is to provide the best possible educational provision for pupils in the Western Isles. That is the task we are engaged upon.”

The decision allows the Comhairle to proceed with the Western Isles Schools Project (PPP), the schools new build and refurbishment programme.

The Comhairle also agreed to urgently engage with the Scottish Executive on the best way forward for education in the Western Isles, to include further discussions relating to financial issues relating to the Western Isles Schools Project, and also for clear guidance on Curriculum for Excellence.

Anonymous said...

MacNeil and Allan - the SNP's voice in the islands. When they should be speaking for the islands. Are either of them capable of independent thought?

Anonymous said...

If the full council were unanimous what happened to the vice chair of education who was elected on a non closure ticket, also another councillor from back was also quoted as going to do everything to keep back school open, this presumably did not include voting against the closures.

Anonymous said...

Seems quite clear to me. They obviously must have tried to bring in the Curriculum for Excellence as part of the justification for school closures and she has said not on your nelly.

Anonymous said...

Heard our MP on RnG this morning. It is all the council and Westminsters fault regarding school closures. The MSP could not be contacted as he is on holiday. I thought he was on holiday since he was elected. I wonder if the MP is still claiming expenses for him, or when did this stop.

Anonymous said...

EDUCATION Secretary and Lothians MSP Fiona Hyslop came under attack today for her silence on Edinburgh's school closure plans.

Ms Hyslop has refused to comment on the controversial proposals to shut 22 schools drawn up by the city's Liberal Democrat-SNP administration.

Her officials said her ministerial responsibilities meant she could not take sides in the row.

But Lothians Labour MSP George Foulkes accused her of dodging the issue, and said she had intervened in a row over plans drawn up by Western Isles Council to close 11 of its schools.