Ministers united in pledge to prioritise vulnerable young

1st July 2011 at 01:00
The Government will make support for Scotland's most vulnerable children and young people one of its top priorities, all three education ministers promised this week.

The pledge came at a specially convened question and answer session at Edinburgh University, with representatives from across the education sector.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell, Children and Young People's Minister Angela Constance and Learning and Skills Minister Alasdair Allan were quizzed on everything from further and higher education funding to early years provision, and from additional support for learning measures to the future of the teaching profession.

The Scottish Government would continue to increase its support for early years, where education spending was "preventative" and yielded the greatest results, Mr Russell told the audience.

But their ability to help children from deprived backgrounds was limited by the Government's lack of control over the tax and benefits system in Scotland, ministers said. While the current system of devolution prevailed, a more cohesive message from the Government on good parenting was crucial, said Mrs Constance.

Their comments came as the Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services called for radical change to "tackle the deep-rooted social problems that persist in communities across the country".

"A cycle of deprivation and low aspiration has been allowed to persist because preventative measures have not been prioritised," said the report.

Russell: CfE coverage `glib'

Education Secretary Michael Russell this week dismissed criticism aimed at Curriculum for Excellence as a by-product of teachers' dissatisfaction over the recent pay and conditions settlement.

Mr Russell, appearing before the Scottish Parliament's education and culture committee to outline priorities for the coming months, was asked about relations between teachers and the Scottish Government over curricular reform.

There were concerns among teachers, he said, but he attributed this in part to "glib" media coverage of CfE.

Mr Russell also told the committee that universities should "try very hard" to match the Government's commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies in the public sector.

He conceded that he had no power to prevent compulsory redundancies in FE. That prompted criticism from Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh, who demanded the Government explain why it had falsely raised hopes that it could protect college workers' jobs.

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