Councils must ensure teaching flowers

12th November 2010 at 00:00

If ever there was a time for public sector education to speak up for itself, it's now. As the axe begins to fall, state-funded education may be much more vulnerable than many within it seem to realise.

There has been a kind of phoney war so far, with life in schools and colleges going on much as before and only the universities making much of a noise.

Schools need to get out there more and tell their public what they are doing, and colleges just as much, as the competition for resources hots up. Some councils have always valued their education service and invested heavily in it, but others, even 15 years after local government reorganisation, still regard their schools and community learning as second best, harking back to the good old days of the district councils when libraries, housing, museums and art galleries topped the agenda.

The real danger is that, with very few former regional councillors left in post in Scotland, councils revert to a district council mentality, in which saving the flowers on the local roundabouts comes before keeping a reasonable level of continuing professional development provision for teachers. And, given the age profile of most councillors, they fail to appreciate the importance of schools to communities and concentrate, instead, on saving those services used by those who tend to bite their ears most at community councils, by definition residents without a live school connection.

That is why schools should be ramping up their publicity. Tell the community what a good job you are doing with the new curriculum, present achieving teachers and pupils as local heroes and don't forget to involve the parents in what you tell the media. Above all, root for education and show how and why it is vital for the development and cohesion of your local community, and use your publicity machine effectively to compete for ever-scarcer resources.

Hugh Dougherty, Kirkwell Road, Glasgow.

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