After the wish list, the reality

21st August 1998 at 01:00
Tension rises as classrooms count down to August 1999.

Education officials have been unable to come up with a Higher Still price tag. Despite union cries that the reform will be impossible on existing resources, authorities say they cannot quantify the funding requirements because levels of central support are not yet clear.

Councils that have audited their schools say they tended to get a wish list in return. Schools have control over most spending under delegated management although specific injections will be required.

East Lothian has told schools to use existing resources but has put an extra Pounds 10,000 into each of its six secondaries, as part of its overall drive to raise attainment. Particular gaps in business education, craft, design and technology, and computing may be funded with private finance.

East Renfrewshire carried out a subject needs analysis at the end of last session. Garry Crosbie, the council's quality development officer, says the information could suggest that minority subjects such as drama and home economics would best be served through links with FE colleges.

High on the list of needs for East Renfrewshire and other authorities is information technology, both to support management and guidance as well as teaching. Jim Goodall, head of educational development in Clackmannanshire, says IT funding will be prioritised to ensure core needs are met - investing in software and hardware for graphic communication, for example, rather than in the sound engineering unit for Higher music.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and West Lothian plan major IT programmes, and Higher Still will be only one beneficiary. A preliminary analysis by Fife suggests an IT investment of more than Pounds 2 million in its 19 secondaries.

Ross Dawson, senior adviser in Edinburgh, says photocopying will also strain resources as schools are limited to one or two copies of material sent out by the Higher Still authorities.

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