Myopic view of the longer term

11th February 2011 at 00:00

Scotland's education system used to be the envy of the world, yet we now find ourselves fighting to preserve resources to maintain the basic capability to deliver learning in our schools.

At a time when our local authority has rightly recognised the need to focus on positive destinations for our school-leavers, and on addressing the growing gap between the most and least fortunate, it is inconceivable that they are proposing to reduce frontline support staff and the time teachers can allocate to lesson preparation.

There are also some vague proposals for "management savings", but no detail of how these will be achieved. With so many senior staff directly involved in the classroom, implementing change must be achieved without impacting our children's education, but the council's focus on long-term educational outcomes is being lost in the pursuit of short-term financial objectives.

For some years, Scotland has been developing and implementing Curriculum for Excellence. In any other profession, such change would be backed by huge investment of time and resources to ensure success, but in Edinburgh we'll be trying to implement it while cutting lesson-preparation time, funding for books, and support staff. These measures can only lead to a curriculum of mediocrity, and children will suffer.

In recent years, parents and teachers have demanded a strategic long-term vision for education across the city. Despite improved communication between parent councils and the children and families department, this year's consultation was little more than advance notice of the latest round of tactical budget cuts to be imposed on schools.

Years of reluctance to tackle the structural challenges in secondary provision across the city have led to stark imbalances between schools. The latest proposals will surely result in further divergence between the least and most fortunate pupils. It is simply not feasible to offer a full range of Higher and Advanced Higher choices to a tiny senior school population, so our current provision is failing large numbers of young people, especially in the most deprived areas.

Graeme Robertson, Broughton High Parent Council, Edinburgh.

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