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Parents warn of 'sham' priorities

THE Scottish Executive's consultation on education priorities is "nothing but an empty sham" if it refuses to place extra cash against its ambitions.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council says it is "totally ridiculous" for ministers to limit their role to identifying priorities and wash their hands of the means to deliver them. "Outcomes require extra resources and those extra resources can only be provided by the Executive," it states.

Progress in early intervention and new community schools had only been achieved through the injection of extra national funding. "It is not possible to separate key outcomes from key inputs. These are totally interrelated."

The council insists that basic standards of literacy and numeracy remain the top target, using pass rates at Standard grade as a measurement to assess progress. As the effects of early intervention in primary filter through, pass rates should improve but young people, such as looked-after children and those with special needs, will require additional support.

The parents' body believes ICT is a generational problem. "For today's youngsters, using a computer, the Internet and e-mail offers considerably less challenge than using a vacuum cleaner or a ashing machine," it maintains.

A key area should be "attitudinal skills", such as communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving and critical thinking, and working with others.

"If we are to give these skills priority, then it is important that there is a change in attitude from top down and an end to a process which has seen schools being judged as 'good' or 'bad' on the basis of their examination results," the SPTC argues.

It also backs a professional and well-motivated teaching force and modern buildings and facilities. Gaelic-medium education should only be implemented where there is a genuine need - "but not the result of some utterly false and romantic view of the place of Gaelic in Scotland's past".

The council informs the Executive that parents often support their children's learning, although they may not turn up at school meetings. Participation has to be "easy and flexible".

It continues: "The election process for participation on school boards is the antithesis of this, as are the endless consultations on school development plans or government policies. Focusing on individual children and encouraging parents to participate at this level is the right way forward."

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