More 'inspired' council leadership call

11th December 2009 at 00:00
Peter Peacock accuses the SNP Government of "incompetence of staggering proportions"

Peter Peacock, education minister in the last Scottish Executive and a former vice-president of Cosla, today accuses the SNP Government of "incompetence of staggering proportions" in reversing in two short years almost all the good work he did to drive teacher numbers up to 53,000.

Writing in today's TESS, Mr Peacock predicts the end of the concordat between local and central government and warns the Scottish Government against removing responsibility for education from local government - as Fiona Hyslop threatened to do, days before she was removed from the post of Education Secretary.

He explains that when he was in charge of education, he deliberately constructed the funding for additional teachers in such a way that the extra money had to go to schools - although he was aware that many council leaders were unhappy with this approach.

"If council leaders didn't share our priority for education, there was little to make me believe they would have delivered without the financial mechanisms we put in place," says Mr Peacock.

"The stark failure on teacher numbers by the SNP Government is continuing evidence of the short-changing of councils in recent budget settlements and clear evidence that giving up the policy levers to deliver a national commitment has been a massive error."

He would have little reservation, he says, in reducing the number of education authorities and extending the ability of "the dozen or so really capable education leaders" to provide "the inspired local leadership the system needs".

A case can be made for 100 per cent of education funding coming from central government, while continuing much local decision-making, he argues.

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