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

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Education funding

If you want to understand the impact of the cuts in front-line educational services, then you need look no further than Stornoway Primary today, where the school did not have enough money to provide Christmas crackers for the kids' Christmas lunch today.

Over 40% of the Council's revenue budget goes on Education, and yet there is still not enough money for such a minor item.

Education is not underfunded, but front-line teaching definitely is. 

The biggest single cost - staffing - is largely outwith the control of the Council and solely the remit of the Scottish Government, and this is not being addressed.  The consequence is almost unsackable staff - however incompetent - conserved salaries even where there isn't any need for staff; and a staffing structure that prevents new teachers gaining jobs. 

Ally this to an administrative structure that seems to be there to administer the administrative system and make endless statistical returns to Government, and you should be able to make significant savings.  If the political will was there.

And the Headteachers have to manage inadequate sums, that are being cut to fund the administrative demands.


Anonymous said...

Do you think the Council should be paying for Christmas crackers for all children in all Schools in the Western Isles? If all children got free Christmas crackers, I'm sure you would be the first to complain that this was a waste of money and put in an FOI to find out how much was spent. How about the kids make their own Christmas crackers?

Anonymous said...

Xmas crackers on the table has nothing whatsoever to do with finance.

The education budget is millions, the lack of a Xmas cracker re-enforces how delusional management are. It is sad if some Manager or paper pusher has stopped Xmas crackers under the guise of saving money.

Anonymous said...

Bah! Humbug!

Anonymous said...

The education budget may well be millions - and desperately badly calibrated between front-line services and administration - but that rump is going to have to be cut savagely anyway to meet cuts targets.

And why should the council be paying for Xmas crackers ? I rather like the notion of children having fun making them themselves - and this is the sort of thing which, along with other activities such as school trips, traditionally has been met or subsidized by the School Fund.

Boy. If people can get so excited about crackers they are really going to go ballistic when they see what else is coming down at us.

The relative plenty of the past 10 or 15 years is now over.

Anonymous said...

How about more video conferencing and less flights! Gains all round.

Anonymous said...


I know a chap on the west coast of Ireland who installs these systems. Recently he was asked to write a report regarding the actual use made of units which had been installed in the various offshore islands, and was tasked to see how the level of Irish use compared to that of the Western Isles.

Surprise surprise, the chance for a day out on expenses and, better still, for an overnight allowance took precedence over the use of video conferencing.
The only enthusiasts for the technology were the Barraichs as practical travel difficulties to the Whitehouse and mainland - particularly in winter - hugely offset any potential benefit from a day out.

So I guess that you are back to the wish list and having management controls in place which can cull the herds of public sector employees who are seen to live only for the freedom to roam both north and south.

Effective management?? shurely shome mishtake.

Anonymous said...


I'd rather see a set up in which council administrative workers'(particularly managers') productivity was not measured by the number of meetings they attended at all.

Forget much of the videoconferencing - because many of the meetings are not needed: they're just 'make work'.

Anonymous said...

Here's a radical thought. Produce a business case for expenditure on travel. If it's justified then it can take place. Also, it's a nice evidence trail of what, where, when, how much, by whom and why. I guess that's why it won't happen!

Anonymous said...

I just really object that 5 year olds are told that the school can't afford Christmas Crackers when there are so many people in the White House doing nothing whatsoever. Why is it so easy to cut these costs and so difficult to make the decisions that will really make a difference.
I also hear that Laxdale and Sandwick took their children to the panto this year but Swy Primary didn't. Why not? Historically the children have paid to go, is it because the teachers / helpers won't do overtime in the evening to cover the event?

Anonymous said...


I rather suspect it's because the school can't get enough help (in kind or in money) from parents and others.

Surely parents must be responsible for some things if they can afford the resource? (And if they can't, that's when the School Fund comes in - but then I guess many of them don't support that much either.)

Anonymous said...

I should add - these are the sort of discussions (what we should be funding as a community) that the Scottish Government and the Council should have been having with us for months if not years.

They haven't - and they won't. Not genuinely anyway. The decisions will be taken by small groups of people in closed rooms. The consultations will merely serve, here, as a little window dressing.

Go to the meeting in Uig and see if you don't agree by the end of it.

Anonymous said...

Children in Castlebay School did not have Chistmas crackers this year as it was against health and safety!