Why the money you get won't be what you see

Neil Munro takes a close look at the spending proposals for education set out by the Scottish Executive last week.

"We are not allocating money willy-nilly. We've got to know what we're getting for our money."

That was how Jack McConnell, the First Minister, summed up his Executive's approach to the three-year spending review, which set out policy commitments up to 2005-06. It was a variation on Chancellor Gordon Brown's mantra of "money for modernisation".

But, as always with Government finance documents, what you get is not always what you see. The additional spending for which Cathy Jamieson will be responsible as Minister for Education and Young People is set to increase from pound;408.9 million now to pound;607.9m by 2005-06 (rising to pound;422.7m and pound;498.7m in the two intervening years).

School spending for which the Scottish Executive is directly responsible (as opposed to money channelled through local councils: see this page) will rise from pound;145.7m to pound;222.1m over the three years. The cash for children and young people will increase from pound;63m to pound;125.7m. The rest of the additional money for the Scottish Executive Education Department is accounted for by social work training costs and specific grants.

That, of course, is not the complete picture. Other increases which affect schools are under the aegis of Iain Gray, the Lifelong Learning Minister. The most notable are the nationwide extension of educational maintenance allowances, aimed at persuading more youngsters to stay on at school or college, with a cash injection of pound;8m in 2004-05 rising to pound;26m the following year; and the major increase from pound;2.5m over three years to pound;40m over three years for education for work and enterprise (see page 6).

But that is not the whole picture either. Culture and Sports Minister Mike Watson will be responsible for an extra pound;1.5m for Gaelic-medium education by 2005-06, an additional pound;8m for the "active primary school programme" by that year, another pound;4m for a school sport development officer in every secondary, and unspecified funding for school cultural co-ordinators and music tuition for children.

Similarly, Margaret Curran, the Social Justice Minister, will be handed pound;10m for childcare so parents in deprived areas can go out to work, and Malcolm Chisholm, the Health Minister, will be responsible for improving the nutritional content and uptake of school meals.

In what has come to be called the "cross-cutting" approach to joint departmental working in the Executive, the social justice sums will be added to a major increase in the budget for the Sure Start initiative which targets education and care for vulnerable families with very young children and which will receive pound;31m by 2005-06 compared with pound;19m now.

Specific sums have also been set aside for improved education and care for looked-after children, rising from pound;2.5m to pound;10m.

Ms Jamieson told The TESS she was pleased that extra money had gone into schools but also into childcare, so that the interests of education and of young people were being looked at as a whole. She also revealed that the Cabinet's children's committee which she chairs had studied all the spending plans to ensure that children's interests were represented in the decisions of other ministers.

One of Ms Jamieson's expectations as part of the "money for modernisation" agenda will be the better integration of services between education and childcare. Improved links with healthcare and social work and the police will be backed by an extra pound;4.3m next year, rising to pound;17.8m and pound;19.3m in the following two years.

The Minister is keen to target the youngest children as part of her integrationist drive. "We know we will do better in the school years if we get it right in the early years," she said.

Ministers expect by 2006 to:

* reduce the average attendance gap in schools serving areas of high and low deprivation by 10 per cent

* increase the nutritional value and take-up of school meals

* complete 200 new or renewed schools

* ensure every school is health-promoting (by 2007)

* increase by at least five per cent the number of pupils achieving their expected 5-14 levels in reading, writing and maths from 76 per cent at the primary stages last year and from 51 per cent in S2; and aim for a 5 per cent rise in the numbers achieving at least five passes in Standard grade 1-2Intermediate 2 A-C by the end of S6 (41 per cent last year)

* reduce by 15 per cent the 30 per cent who fail to reach 5-14 level C in P7 and level D in S2 in reading, writing and maths, and a similar drop in those failing to gain five passes in Standard grade 3-4 and Intermediate 1A-C by the end of S6 (25 per cent in 1999-2000)

* halve the 33,000 of 16 to 19-year-olds not in education, training or work

* increase the numbers staying on at school or college as a result of extending the educational maintenance allowance by at least 5 per cent (by 2008)

* increase the number of modern apprenticeships from 22,500 to more than 25,000

* increase the number of children in Gaelic-medium education by at least 5 per cent each year

* boost the number of children taking part in cultural and sporting activities by 5 per cent

* develop education for sustainable development across the curriculum.

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