Aberdeenshire threatens to abandon Higher Still

9th February 1996 at 00:00
The Liberal Democrat-controlled Aberdeenshire Council may drop devolved management and Higher Still because of pound;14 million cuts in its overall budget, Joan Orskov, education convener of the new council and Grampian Region, warned this week.

An angry Mrs Orskov said Aberdeenshire would consider ditching Government initiatives that were not laid down in statute to allow schools to concentrate on local priorities. "Perhaps we will use it as a delaying tactic," she conjectured.

A leading Fife official also cast doubt on councils' continuing co-operation with the 5-14 programme and the curricular demands of the Inspectorate. David Cameron, senior adviser in assessment and research, reminded a national conference on school effectiveness at Edinburgh University on Monday that Scottish Office policy was "not a national curriculum". If schools were to improve, teachers had to examine their own priorities.

"We can no longer ask teachers to make changes on the basis of rhetoric and that someone else knows better than they do," Mr Cameron said.

Mrs Orskov commented: "Until now, we have been exceedingly co-operative and Grampian has leant over backwards to go along with the Government. But we do not feel we are getting any thanks for it. Parents are getting to the stage where they are saying no more cuts in education."

She believed the Scottish Office had only "limited insight" into school practice and accused ministers of imposing blanket solutions when issues were better settled locally. League tables of raw examination results were "not any help at all" in Grampian.

Government initiatives such as devolved management, which took no account of the funding required to implement it, and Higher Still, which would have workload implications for teachers, were similarly ill conceived.

"Frankly, we have got to decide a standstill on some Government initiatives if we have got to make cuts. We do not see why we have got to give up local initiatives to put in place Government priorities. We have lost all our development officers and we are looking at cutting support to teachers at a time when we should be giving them more support," Mrs Orskov said.

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