C’mon – I’ll ask again where is the …

Comment posted 2010 School’s Act now a charter to close rural schools by Simon.

C’mon – I’ll ask again where is the snp explanation on this?

Gerry Fisher doesn’t think Mike Russell knew aobut this?? Please!!!!!

Of course Mikey Boy knew. I have seen countless posts from apologists and the ‘usual suspects’ on here defending Mike Russell. I’ve been told by “doc” he had no choice over Robslee (rubbish if course) and have been personally attacked for my stance over this fork-tongued politico.

Now – I’ll ask again – where is the snp explanation of what’s happening here???

Mike Russell is fast enough to get on here when he wants to so, where is he today??

Simon also commented

  • integrity – “Neither of those two things required him to carry out a review within his own department.” I know that. that’s why I carefully chose the expression “He was quick enough to mouth off”. :)

    Anyway he’s answered now – see what you maske of it…

  • Integrity – “Simon and demands for an instant response from the Education Secretary are not helpful at a time ” hardly an instant response – the article was posted two days ago.

    He was quick enough to mouth off about ‘spygate’ and the Craignure ramp… :)

  • Still nobody from the snp on here explaining this decision then?
  • Robsleee no more, Hillhead no more, Arygll rural schools….
    Where is the SNP response to all of this?

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29 Responses to C’mon – I’ll ask again where is the …

  1. The Caledonian Economics options appraisal model has been endorsed formally by Scottish Ministers as additionally providing a valid education benefits statement, with which they are ‘content’ and which they regard as fulfilling ‘statutory duties in this regard’.
    In relation to the application of this model in the case detailed in the article above. it is worth noting just how this was operated in practice in the case of the Hillhead and Wick North Schools.
    Section 6.3 of Highland Council’s closure proposal paper refers to the outcome of a two day workshop attended by local Headteachers. In conjunction with costings, the results of the workshop were interpreted as showing that the new school was the best value for money as well as showing educational advantages.
    HIghland Council says:
    ‘The option appraisal report recommends the creation of a new school on the North Primary School site on the basis that it produces a higher Value for Money rating than refurbishing the existing schools. The recommendation was based on the outcome of the 2 day work-shop attended by the Caithness Head Teachers and the appropriate officials from Education Culture & Sport and the Housing and Property Service. The detailed analysis of deliverables and related cost implications of the options considered is outlined in the option appraisal report produced by CEL.’
    However, the options appraisal scored the two schools as if they were one, producing a deflated score which Hillhead on its own significant.ly betters – even by the seriously skewed weightings of the model in favour of large schools.
    The way in which the two-day workshop referred to was conducted and the way in which this options appraisal was carried out caused much concern among those attending the workshop.
    The upshot of this was that, as FoI revealed, six of the seven Headteachers who belong to the Wick High School Area School Group expressed  significant reservations about these two days.
    Concerned at the increasing emphasis placed on these two days before parents and elected members,  the Headteachers wrote this letter to Mr Mackenzie at the end of June 2011 identifying major concerns about the process they had been involved with. They said:
    ‘The days were poorly organised. The pressure of time which was evident throughout the two days resulted in a very limited and rushed discussion of a large number of issues.
    ‘The evaluation of the options all (their emphasis) had to be done  in the final hour of the two days. Despite Caithness headteachers having asked for prior information about the nature of the two days, this was not supplied. 
    ‘Time for reflective evaluation was minimal. At times speed as opposed to consensus was the critical variable in moving forward. …
    ‘Within this pre-prepared structure our group felt that there was a strong in-built bias towards ’bigger is best’.  …
    ‘As a group we do not feel confident  that the complexity of schools, their relationship with their community and their ability to create successful citizens of the future can be  fully or properly evaluated in a paper and pencil exercise of this nature,  carried out in this way.’
    Hillhead School Council feels that these two points seriously undermine the alleged educational benefits which  rest on the outcome of this  two day workshop.
    It should be noted that this information was before the the Scottish Government’s Education Department call-in team who went on to create the precedent that cripples the use of the 2010 Schools Act – in order to support the decision to close the schools in question.

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  2. The use of this options appraisal ‘model’ to assess educational benefit is farcical as would be any decision to adopt it as an acceptable approach going forward.

    It is purpose designed to favour large roll schools with a disregard for quality and local factors. One (of many) ridiculous aspects of it is that there is a school in A&B (one of those recently threatened) that currently scores very highly if the model is adopted. However if COSLA get their way and alter the definition of a rural school then this particular school is very likely to no longer be classified as one. The result of that would be that it would now get a very poor educational benefit score.

    The same school, the same pupils, the same building, same equipment, same access to extra curricular activities etc etc – yet in the stroke of a definition making pen it changes from a school to cherish to a school failing to provide an acceptable level of education.

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    • And, if it is NOT adopted ‘as an acceptable approach going forwards’, where does that leave Hillhead?

      Is it acceptable that this educationally strong, communally necessary and physically capable school would be left as the sole victim of an enforced closure against the evidence?

      That it would have been made so by what the Scottish Government’s Education Department has formally pronounced itself ‘content’ with as a valid educational benefits statement fulfilling a local authority’s statutory obligations in this regard?

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      • I confess to not knowing as much about the ins and outs of the Hillhead case as I maybe should do however the general query you make is entirely valid.

        We are told the most important aspect of any closure proposal is the educational benefit (or otherwise) of the proposal. The SG have stated it, COSLA have claimed it (how much you believe them is up for debate) and ARSN firmly agree that this is the aspect that is most significant.

        Given the emphasis placed upon it, above and beyond all other factors, it is imperative that its content is evidenced, robust, reflects the local proposal and is free of bias.

        If the Hillhead one is purely based on this ‘model’ then the above factors have not been met and the decision to close the school lacks credibility and justification.

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  3. Why not move all the goal posts to close rural schools,it worked with the Dunoon – Gourock Ferries didnt it? What did u think was going to happen?

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  4. On the increasingly anarchic situation on education closures: East Dunbartonshire Council announced 2 weeks ago another Primary School Estate Review to be conducted in its area – in June, with he same criteria as before and with the Commission not reporting until August, possibly at the earliest.

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  5. I find it impossible to believe that the Cabinet Secretary for Education, given his position and statements made in the last year during the schools debacle with A&BC, has authorised this position. Apart from anything else it is totally against the Party’s policy for the rural areas and their development and growth.

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    • The trouble is that any possible interpretation of this serious situation does not reassure on the state of the Scottish Government’s Education Department or on the Education Secretary.
      Procedurally, the Education Secretary would have to sign off communications sent from his department in the name of Scottish Ministers. It is unthinkable that a civil servant would have unmonitored signing authority to commit the Scottish Government.

      Logically, the interpretation sequence is:
      1. The Education secretary fully knew what he was doing.
      2. He knew what he was doing but didn’t think about the precedent being set.
      3. He knew the TACTIC he was agreeing but not its specifics, did NOT inform himself about them AND didn’t think about the precedent being set.
      4. He didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t ask what it was he was agreeing.
      5. He didn’t know what he was doing but DID ask and was given partial information which satisfied him without further questions.
      6. He didn’t know what he was doing but DID ask and was given misleading information.

      From our own close observation of what the Education Secretary says and does and especially on school closure issues, our money’s on option 3,

      The Education Secretary is not a creature of strategy but is informed by a keenly honed tactical awareness which is essentially pragmatic, focused on a solution to the pressures of the moment.

      Option 5 is a likely explanation to be offered. It offers the Education Secretary a let out clause. It comes as close to scapegoating a civil servant as you could get without triggering open revolt – but, for a senior minister, that is preferable to Option 6, which would indicate an out of control department where civil servants were running their own agenda.

      What is certain in any of this is that NO ONE in the Education Department, at any level, thought about the precedent being set. That lack of intellectual and procedural grasp of the spectrum of consequences of actions is of concern.

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  6. An excellent piece of reporting, highlighting the complete injustice of this. It is very alarming that our Education Secretary is prepared to put his name to this decision without obviously being aware of all the facts or perhaps not understanding them ?? No longer can any parent feel confident in the Scot Executive having our childs best interests at heart. No longer can any parent be confident that schools are protected from closure. Where does this leave the Hillhead case I wonder ? Some response from the SNP is definitely needed on this one asap !!!!

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    • I have to agree with Topsy Turvy. As someone who worked for years on the Act it has been gut wrenching to see it systematically dismantled by the very people we entrusted to make it a robust piece of legislation. The Act could have worked but at every turn it has been compromised by failures to set down consistent markers in order that everyone knew where they stood regarding enforcement. Now the educational benefit principle, which we thought should have universal agreement, has been destroyed by the acceptance of this ridiculous model.

      If there is a problem with the Act in terms of legal wording and the powers granted to Ministers then the legal advice on this should be published. People can then work towards an amendment(s) to get the Act back where Parliament intended it to be.

      If it is simply an unwillingness to comply with the will of Parliament that is another thing entirely.

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  7. C’mon – I’ll ask again where is the snp explanation on this?

    Gerry Fisher doesn’t think Mike Russell knew aobut this?? Please!!!!!

    Of course Mikey Boy knew. I have seen countless posts from apologists and the ‘usual suspects’ on here defending Mike Russell. I’ve been told by “doc” he had no choice over Robslee (rubbish if course) and have been personally attacked for my stance over this fork-tongued politico.

    Now – I’ll ask again – where is the snp explanation of what’s happening here???

    Mike Russell is fast enough to get on here when he wants to so, where is he today??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. In my reading about political history, I used to come across a saying “He who can set the prices of necessities can control the whole wealth of the nation, just as he who can tax”. (I think the context was the so-called “trusts” (actually monopolies or cartels) controlling supply of coal, oil, steel in the USA at the end of the 19th / beginning of the 20th centuries.)

    The modern saying should plainly be, by analogy: “He who can set the weighting factors in the spreadsheet can control the whole behaviour of the society or government or nation, more effectively than any other”.

    Now, I could choose any particular weighting factors to achieve the end desired by my political masters: set the factor for the most important data to 99 (or 0.99 depending on your formula) and everything else to total to 1 (or 0.01). That tactic would certainly be spotted and would surely fail at judicial review in the courts, at least in the court of public opinion. But a more subtle choice (by the officials or by a consultancy firm) could achieve the “desired” end in all of the immediate cases, and would provide a precedent for the future.

    I am immensely worried that the latter sort of shenanigans may have occurred in this case.

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    • HMF – pretty much right on the money. SRSN recreated the model exactly as it was used in the workshop in Wick that 6 out of 7 Wick Head Teachers protested about. As a second stage we took it a little further and linked the model to a set of questions which, when answered, automatically fill in the model to give an educational benefits score for the option being looked at. Any Parent Council chair should be able to answer the questions in less than 10 minutes and get a score for the status quo of their school.
      Doing this throws up some stunning results. In 2006 Tomintoul was graded by HMIe as the worst school in Scotland. It was placed in a form of special measures in order to attempt solving its very severe problems. If you run the model looking at an option of closing Glenlivit and moving the children into the worst school in Scotland at that time, the option shows huge educational benefits for the Glenlivit children. This is because the model is designed to show bigger is best and takes no account of educational quality whatsoever.
      Not sure but perhaps Newsroom could post our question based scoring system as a download?

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  9. What is it with this country – why do people have difficulty playing by the rules. In this case the Act. Curriculum for Excellence sets outs to engage our children helping them to become confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens – our children are better versed in these attributes already than some of our decision makers it would seem. As a parent directly affected by the Hillhead decision I am angered and saddened that this decision appears to have been taken without the necessary due diligence and research one would expect from Scot Gov . Independence for Alex & Co – Absolutely NO THANKS ….

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    • For Topsy Turvy: There will be more on this in an article we will be publishing on the position in which the Commission for the Delivery of Rural Education is now left.
      Working on this has led us to identify further serious failures by the Scottish Government’s Education Department to comply with the statutory requirements of the law they are supposed to implement as its guardians.
      These relate specifically to Scottish Ministers’ particular and precedent setting determination of Highland’s Wick proposals.
      In our view there is a very good case for Judicial Review and we will seek legal opinion on this.

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  10. It is somewhat risible our local SNP MP is leading the charge against a YES vote in the referendum. A bit of an oops moment perhaps.
    First the ferries as a wee experiment, now the schools.

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    • “It is somewhat risible our local SNP MP is leading the charge against a YES vote in the referendum. A bit of an oops moment perhaps.
      First the ferries as a wee experiment, now the schools ” ???????????

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  11. Charlatan shock horror claims from the likes of Simon and demands for an instant response from the Education Secretary are not helpful at a time when what is most important is get things right. There is not an organisation in the world that would take a complaint/issue raised from one source and provide an instant reaction which could be interpreted as the company line, especially when that response might be critical of staff or process. Any organisation that did react in that way would have a very short shelf life. Politics is no different. It would be entirely irresponsible of the Education Secretary to offer a knee jerk opinion, whether that be through FA, the Herald, or in the somewhat IKEA looking surroundings of Holyrood! He has a duty to ensure he is properly informed and a further duty to the people who work for him to ensure that any comment he does provide reflects the whole story.

    What he is doing (and has committed to doing, which maybe Newsroom could confirm as this would provide a better balance to the story) is to examine the CEL model and its role in the Hillhead decision. I believe he is involving SRSN in this review which I welcome and think is a positive indication that this is not just being swept under the carpet . This, for me, is the correct course of action to take (and I say that as someone who is far from impressed with the model) and given that I think it is appropriate to give the Education Secretary the necessary time to conduct this review properly.

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  12. As a parent directly affected by the Hillhead and North amalgamation, both schools were concerned from the outset of the process about the facilities mentioned within the “Educational Benefit Statement” and how they did not appear to fit into the space provided as well as how the statement had been copied. An increased school roll was to be educated within smaller classrooms and communal areas than Hillhead currently enjoys and parents were unconvinced about how this space issue was an educational benefit to their children. After the decision was made to progress with the closures, we were informed that this Educational Benefit Statement was only ever a summary of best practice on what should be included in a new build and was not actually a reflection of what would be included. How can approval be given to a consultation that did not actually consult on what will be built? Much is made of “community schools” nowadays but it appears to be overlooked that Hillhead and every rural school in the country are already community schools in the true sense.

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  13. Integrity – “Simon and demands for an instant response from the Education Secretary are not helpful at a time ” hardly an instant response – the article was posted two days ago.

    He was quick enough to mouth off about ‘spygate’ and the Craignure ramp… :)

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  14. Neither of those two things required him to carry out a review within his own department. If you think such a review can be carried out comprehensively and concluded upon in two days then maybe you should take your methodology to Sally Loudon so we can get a quicker turnaround on Spygate!

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  15. Pingback: Argyll News: Cabinet Secretary’s unconvincing response on current status of 2010 Schools Act | For Argyll

  16. integrity – “Neither of those two things required him to carry out a review within his own department.” I know that. that’s why I carefully chose the expression “He was quick enough to mouth off”. :)

    Anyway he’s answered now – see what you maske of it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Pingback: Argyll News: 2010 Schools Act: on the way to Wick | For Argyll

  18. Pingback: Argyll News: 2010 Schools Act: the conflicted roles of the call-in team | For Argyll

  19. Pingback: Argyll News: 2010 Schools Act: solution for recovery from the Wick determination | For Argyll

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