What next for MSPs?

2nd May 2003 at 01:00
FOR more than a decade, more investment was the persistent call from the education sector. Most ills would be sorted by extra cash - for teachers to reward their efforts and attract the best to the profession, for heads to buy more computers and books to help pupils' learning, for local authorities to rebuild crumbling edifices. Now after four years of coalition administration in the Scottish Parliament, there are fewer complains about investment. It is more how it is distributed. Do heads have enough control? Do primaries merit more? Do we need extra to support inclusion aims?

The trouble is that Chancellor Gordon Brown takes much of the credit and not the parliamentarians on the Mound. Of course, they deserve recognition for departing from education priorities south of the border. Here, the two big ventures in school education - the post-McCrone agreement and the national debate - were introduced in a more consensual climate. A third strand, school rebuilding, is more contentious but gets the job done.

As our survey (pages 4-5) establishes this week, those in the education front line echo many of the points raised in the national debate and by parties in the run-up to this week's elections. They want more financial powers for headteachers, better classroom discipline, curriculum reform in primary and early secondary, far less assessment and definitely smaller classes.

Other than the McCrone money, some argue they have yet to see the benefits of educational control from Edinburgh. There is no cut in bureaucracy and inclusion presents serious problems for many. Teachers are still publicly attacked for apparent failings and standards deemed to be too low.

So beware politicians with a four-year mandate and a determination to do something quickly to sort real or imagined difficulties. Systems have to move with the grain and with the profession - even if it needs a firm nudge from its sometimes entrenched bunkers.

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