Glasgow to tackle low pupil standards

18th October 1996 at 01:00
Lord Cullen's recommendations on school security and stricter vetting of adults working with children could cost at least Pounds 13 million.

The TES Scotland has learnt that the minimum cost of stepping up security at every primary and secondary school could be as much as Pounds 12 million, while the price of checking on all 100,000 voluntary youth workers in Scotland may be around Pounds 1 million.

The Government has pledged that the Cullen report's recommendations in these two areas will be implemented, but details of funding must await the outcome of the annual public expenditure round between ministers and the Treasury. The Scottish Office has previously hinted at a specific grant to councils of Pounds 3 million for improved school security.

But East Dunbartonshire has estimated that minimum security standards would cost Pounds 3,700 for each primary and Pounds 9,500 per secondary, a total of Pounds 12.5 million across Scotland. This would buy electronic checks at entrances, push pads on perimeter building doors, panic alarms, perimeter fencing and security lighting.

If "lower risk" areas such as Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Highlands and Islands are excluded, the bill would still be a significant Pounds 10 million - a modest sum compared with the Pounds 38 million estimate from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities based on Pounds 10,000 per school.

The possible expense of vetting youth workers is causing concern to voluntary organisations. The Scout Association alone, whose record-keeping led to Thomas Hamilton being kicked out as a scout leader, spends Pounds 175,000 a year to vet 50,000 leaders and helpers across the UK. If it is charged Pounds 10 for checks on criminal records, as the Home Office is proposing employers should pay, that bill would rise to Pounds 500,000.

George Johnston, director of the Scottish Standing Conference of Voluntary Youth Organisations, said: "We simply will not be able to afford it."

Meanwhile Gordon Jeyes, director of education in Stirling, which covers Dunblane, warned against "fixations" on buildings and security apparatus at the expense of wider issues on child safety such as bullying, anti-drugs strategies and pupil welfare.

Stirling intends to set up "school safety groups" reporting to a team of education and technical officials, parents and the police.

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