The clutter of occupation

26th September 2003 at 01:00
The praise heaped on the Swedish integrated system of childcare and education at a conference last week may have embarrassed the reticent and modest Swedish guests but it also highlighted inadequacies in much of current UK provision. The view of Peter Moss of the University of London that "a liberal welfare state cannot deliver a well-paid, well-trained workforce across (childcare and education) services and rely essentially on parental payment" deserves some consideration.

In Scotland, the opportunities presented by integrated community schools will hopefully inspire a more imaginative approach. But missionary work still needs to be done judging by the objection of the local branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland last week to West Dunbartonshire restyling its former education committee as a children's services committee.

The Treasury is unlikely to match Nordic tax levels and the "clutter of occupations" will continue to militate against integration. Given these limitations, the Executive should at least explore the notion of piloting alternative strategies. Glasgow is dipping its toe in the waters with pre-12 campuses and learning communities, tackling transition points at the ages of five and 12. A small amount of pump-priming cash might pay dividends.

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