Your views

21st November 2014 at 00:00

Photocopying is all that's left to talk about

Budget cuts are an emotive issue, so it's unsurprising that feelings ran high recently at the Scottish Parliament's Education and Culture Committee evidence sessions on what the Scottish government's draft budget for 2015-16 will mean for schools ("The secretive world of school funding", 7 November).

The National Parent Forum of Scotland gave evidence but was disappointed that this valuable opportunity to discuss parents' experiences was sidetracked by arguments over whether schools have always expected textbooks to be shared between pupils.

The bigger picture is that parents are concerned about budget pressures having a negative impact on their children's education. Local authorities body Cosla has warned of fewer teachers and shorter school weeks as a result of the cuts. Pupils who need the most help may not receive it, as the numbers of classroom assistants and additional support for learning (ASL) auxiliaries are being reduced. None of this will help to increase attainment levels - a key measure of how well schools are using the money allocated to them. Evidence suggests that what does make the difference in terms of attainment is parental involvement, school leadership and targeting resources at those most in need, and we would welcome a discussion about this.

The Scottish government is raising expectations through its education policies, but can schools fulfil these ambitions in the current financial climate? Curriculum for Excellence needs proper resourcing or the individually tailored, interdisciplinary approach it aims to achieve could fail. The 1+2 languages policy is laudable but seems unrealistic when local authority teacher training budgets are being slashed.

Encouraging parental involvement in decision-making is welcome, but parents are operating in the dark about budgets and there is limited room for manoeuvre as the vast majority of spending is allocated to teacher salaries. So perhaps it is not surprising that we end up getting involved in petty debates over photocopying costs, as there is little else left to argue over. Radical solutions are needed, but this is for the government to propose, not parents.

Iain Ellis
Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland

Short and tweet

One day into week. Knackered. Almost cruel what education demands of staff and pupils.

@mrdissent

#scssa As a former engineer I applied to add computing to my GTCS registration. Rejected as I had industry qualifications, not university.

@IanStuart66

Leadership tip: if it's possible to hit your targets and miss the point, your targets are wrong.

@learningjay

Just 16 per cent of teachers in Scotland are trained to tackle homophobic bullying. http:t.coowcr7xUUuj #EducationForAll

@StonewallScot

I'm still pushing for every teacher in Scotland to be trained in LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] education. Section 28 legacy lives on in our classroom. #fact

@JNaplesCampbell

Finland has 5.5 million people and 1,000 libraries. People borrow 70 million books annually. More than any other country.

@pasi_sahlberg

If the Swedish were top of Pisa, would we all be eating in Ikea? Context can't be copied. And should not be!

@AlmaHarris1

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