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EIS may back central funding

The Educational Institute of Scotland has come close to arguing for greater centralisation of education funding under a Scottish parliament in an ambiguous election statement issued on Wednesday.

Urging a new formula that would effectively set minimum standards for all schools, Ronnie Smith, the union's general secretary, said: "We are looking for clarity, objectivity, fairness and stable funding for our schools and an end to the debacle over education budgets."

Mr Smith said the current situation in which more and more was piled on schools without any extra resources could not continue. "Each year we see authorities being put in the quite impossible position of trying to allocate a cake that is simply too small to distribute. Education cannot go on in the same old way. The present system has very few supporters. But we have no detailed formula off pat," he said.

Mr Smith believed a Scottish parliament should re-examine the way schools were funded to recognise changes in the curriculum, the special needs of different geographical areas, the size of classes needed to deliver individual attention, and the workload of teachers. Existing funding was "manifestly insufficient". Despite new national standards, he envisaged a continuing role for local authorities.

"We are looking for a system of funding that will establish a link between what people want from schools and an objective measure of what they need to deliver. Setting targets is only one half of the equation," he said.

May Ferries, the union's president, regretted that teachers were always seen to be complaining but said: "You cannot keep squeezing money and asking teachers to do more and more. Things have to be adequately paid for."

The EIS is issuing a leaflet to parliamentary candidates, councils and schools called A New Basis for the Funding of Scottish Schools.

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