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

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

and the Government view....

Barely had the metaphorical ink dried on the previous post than the Government issued a press release about the new policy and the proposed bill. Emphasis on the word 'proposed'.
The Bill will update and strengthen the consultation procedures that local authorities apply to all school closures and other major changes to schools - by ensuring that the best practices already adopted by some, become universal practice for all. It will establish a process that is coherent, easy to understand, fair, workable, open and transparent. As a result of the Bill a local authority would have, among other things, to publish and advertise a detailed proposal paper, produce an educational benefits statement - to ensure that educational benefits and needs are at the heart of the consultation, consult for a minimum of six weeks of term time, seek HMIE's view on the educational aspects of the proposal, and extend the list of mandatory consultees to include, among others, pupils and teachers.

The Bill will though leave the consultation and decision making processes squarely and rightly in the hands of the local authorities who are responsible for seeking always to improve the quality and standards of the education which they deliver to communities right across their areas.
Yes, you read that last paragraph correctly. And the screams you can hear are emanating from Sandwick Road where Morag Munro and Angus Campbell and dismembering a voodoo doll of Ms Hyslop.

And then the guidance gets better...
The Bill will also replace the current system for referring certain local authority decisions to Ministers for consent with a Ministerial power to call in decisions, but only in relation to school closure decisions and where there have apparently been failures in the consultation or decision making processes. The call-in process will provide a reassurance to those affected by any school closure proposal that a safeguard exists in the rare circumstances where it appears that the new statutory duties contained in the Bill have not been properly fulfilled.
Got that? There will be no call-in procedure unless there has been a failure in the process, which Ministers can only ascertain by, er, calling the decision in.

So no change to the status quo, except more and wider consultation with more people and a nebulous "educational benefits statement".

So where does this leave the Comhairle and the schools decisions?

If new schools give an educational benefit compared to old, collapsing, schools will that be more persuasive than continuing highly costly tiny schools in local communities?

Answer: no-one knows, which means that the ability to plan the schools estate is out the window. We continue to foot the bill for the uncertainty, so can it get much worse?


Anonymous said...

No failure in the process from Comhairle, backed up by HMI & Audit Scotland. SNP shoot themselves in the foot again.
Apologies from local group ????

Anonymous said...

I'd just read the BBC article on this and am more baffled than ever. If anything my disgust at the incompetence of the comhairle is lessening a bit, if this is the kind of thinking that's going on in Holyrood. As we've all said before, can we at least have a clear policy, whatever it means for our local schools, and this takes us three steps backwards.

Anonymous said...

Blind leading the blind seems to cover it all.