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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

School closures

With the "Save Bayble School" minibus parked outside the Comhairle offices, and forecasts of a big demonstration against the proposals, the Education Committee will this afternoon consider the possible closure of some secondary departments, and the eventual transfer of these pupils to other schools.

I'd love to be able to bring you the agenda item, so that those who cannot be present could at least understand the background to the decision, and take a view on the reasonableness (or otherwise) of the recommendation. Unfortunately, the Comhairle does not publish the agendas electronically, and previous attempts by me to scan the agendas resulted in enormous files, so we will have to take on trust the reports in the various media sources.

Some facts are unchallengeable: pupil numbers are collapsing, costs are going through the roof and buildings need huge cash sums spent on them.

Some are more contentious: the new curriculum needs new teaching arrangements, the Government want rural schools to be kept open and the pupils may be better joining with their peers at the start of Secondary rather than in the Third year.

Of course no-one wants to lose their local school, but the financial implications for the community are enormous if we keep the schools open. The PFI PPP quasi-almost-Scottish Public Trust scheme is going to suck large sums out of the education budget over the next 30 years as the 'funding gap' has to be bridged. (What that means is that the costs of the building been done by anyone other than the Council are much higher, but for the purposes of this scam the Government pretends that the private sector having be enormously rewarded for taking a risk, where no risk exists, and consequently education provision must suffer to line the pockets of big construction companies, accountants and lawyers to deliver er... education provision.)

I understand that the Bayble parents may have some unspecified non-financial guarantee from the Government representatives, and it will be interesting to see how that fits into the big picture. However, I guess that the Uist and Barra schools will be selected for closure/rationalisation, and that the decision about schools in Lewis will - inevitably - be given more detailed consideration by Councillors. The majority of whom come from Lewis.

That's what happened last time, and I will be surprised if it doesn't happen again.


Anonymous said...

did you not watch the documentary the other day? Smaller schools do better.

Anonymous said...

The need for rationalisation in education provision in the islands is something that cannot be argued against. What the parents of both Bayble and Daliburgh are arguing for is that this is done in a fair and transparent way, where the whole school estate is considered without any hidden agendas.

Anonymous said...

Small schools do better? Let's all demand one-to-one education in the Western Isles, sod the cost.