On what 'educational grounds' exactly?

1st May 2009 at 01:00

Glasgow's invisible council leader, Steven Purcell, claimed the decision to wield the axe against entire communities in working-class heartlands of Glasgow was based on "the strong recommendations of education professionals". He is either ill-informed or worse.

I can only assume he would include one of the council's senior education officers, the aptly named John Butcher, in the description "education professionals". The latter toured the public consultation meetings, advocating and "justifying" the closures, drawing the flak that Mr Purcell himself deserved.

At one of those meetings, I repeatedly challenged Mr Butcher's claim that "educational grounds" justified the closures. I quoted studies across the globe, spanning years, showing that smaller class sizes improve education. I pointed out that there were fewer Glasgow primary kids in classes of 18 (the declared aim of the Scottish Government) in 2008 than in 2007 and, indeed, than in 2005.

I further argued that the present closure package would lead to larger classes, with fewer staff through cuts to posts. I challenged Mr Butcher to explain how any of this had anything to do with "educational grounds". He repeatedly refused to answer.

Yet Mr Purcell claims the experts justify his brutal closures, and his dictatorship over spineless Labour councillors to ram them through.

Mr Purcell and New Labour will rue the day they spat in the faces of the tens of thousands who opposed these closures. Our campaign will continue peaceful direct action and legal action. We will appeal to the Scottish Parliament to use its political weight to step in and demand Labour's axe- wielders reverse these scandalous closures.

We shall not be moved!

Richie Venton, organiser, Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign.

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