Memory suggests that both Councillor Devon and Councillor …

Comment posted Argyll Rural Schools Network puts all candidates to the test on rural schools by newsroom.

Memory suggests that both Councillor Devon and Councillor McNaughton reverted to the group line on this issue after this single rebellion.

Recent comments by newsroom

  • Supposing CalMac lost the Clyde and Hebridean ferries contract…
    Argyll Ferries is a subsidiary company of Caledonian Macbrayne Ltd, whose parent company is David MacBrayne Limited.
    The brand name’Caledonian MacBrayne’ is owned by CMAL. Apologies for using the shortened version.
    However, we will find out if CalMac is also a registered brand owned by CMAL and will add the answer to that when we get it.
    UPDATED 29 May: Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). Caledonian MacBrayne , CalMac and the lion rampant device are registered trademarks of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL)and are used under licence by CalMac Ferries Ltd.
  • The Carmichael lie: another grubby pot condemns the leaking kettle
    Good question.
    The issue at the time was addressing what one could call a persistent local persecution of some ferrymen – and the council’s failure to offer robust protection to their employees.
    The conduct of the abusers was such as to fall clearly within the council’s own criterion of vexatious complainant. They had a written protocol for dealing with such complainants yet had never employed it in relation to these behaviours designed to harrass and damage their employees. On some occasions these behaviours were very much in the extreme, like pack animals ganging up on an individual.
    Several Easdale ferrymen treated in this way developed stress symptoms and had periods where they were unable to work.
    We were anxious to keep readers’ attention focused on what was an issue of serious importance.
    We felt that were we to identify this particular participant, whose behaviours were worryingly threatening, that could have become the main issue; and the less high profile issues of the undefended ferrymen could have got buried.
    The harrassment and abuse that went on, delivered by a specific group – much of which we published – was utterly unprincipled and calculated to be as personally damaging as possible. That was the heart of the matter and that was what we wanted to keep in focus.
    That was the judgment behind the anonymity used at that time.
    That need no longer exists; and the deliberate predation of Carmichael is unpleasant, self-serving and hypocritical.
  • Is David MacBrayne’s Solent enterprise the signal for the end of Calmac?
    Agreed on all points.
  • Is David MacBrayne’s Solent enterprise the signal for the end of Calmac?
    We can’t see that port management expertise can be present in David MacBrayne or in Calmac at any level at the moment – because the two companies remaining in the group are ferry operators and have no port management to do – so why would they have staff with unusable expertise?
    CMAL has been the port manager now for a considerable time.
    So DML would have to buy in specialist expertise while retaining their most senior staff to run the non-technical aspects of the operation – of which there will be many.
    Top level staff are not normal TUPE transfers since new companies generally prefer to put in their own appointments.
    If CalMac retain the Clyde and Hebridean Ferries contract, they will not be able to run Marchwood as well – because they won’t have top management staff to spare and will have to hire in even more.
    This just doesn’t fit with a state owned company because they don’t exist to make money but to provide services.
    The scenario we propose is the only one we can see making any sense.
  • Weak, nervous and unsearching: Audit Scotland report into Argyll and Bute Council ADP procurement
    This is a finely balanced point.
    What the report has said is contradictory in spirit because what they said on the lack of correspondence [implicitly of complaint] was intended to exonerate a process in dispute.
    The two third sector organisations that were unable even to bid – because of the same eccentric process that might have disadvantaged actual bidders – had been equally disadvantaged by being misled into thinking they could not responsibly bid.
    Therefore the experience of the two third sector groups provides evidence which contradicts the exoneration of the process founded on the fact that no disappointed bidder had complained to the audit team.
    Beyond that and on a different aspect of this matter – no one is entitled to assume that the lack of complaint and/or correspondence can safely be read as contentment with process.
    Given the performance of Audit Scotland in this review, there will be those who will see no point in bothering with the Commission.

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26 Responses to Memory suggests that both Councillor Devon and Councillor …

    • About as surprising as your inability to comment on the actual story.

      In their submission to the Rural Education Commission COSLA claim that rural schools only have a limited contribution to community life and that they are not aware of any evidence to support the claim that schools should be continued simply on the grounds of the role it places in the community. First and foremost this is a misrepresentation of the arguments and views expressed by parents and campaigners across Scotland. ARSN have no knowledge of any campaign which argues for school retention solely on the grounds of community impact, campaigns focus on all relevant factors with community impact being just one of them.

      ARSN recognise that there is limited research on the impact of schools on community sustainability however disagree with COSLA’s claim that there is none. Two such studies, the ‘Outer Hebrides Migration Study’ and ‘Factors Influencing Rural Migration Decisions in Scotland: An Analysis of the Evidence’ should be well known to COSLA as they were erroneously referenced by Argyll & Bute Council as providing evidence that the existence of schools were not of significant importance to the sustainability of rural communities. The author of the Hebrides study wrote to ARSN and stated that ‘ Overall I feel that using this report as a basis for concluding that schools are less important in sustaining rural communities is wholly unjustified. The report clearly states that business, jobs and housing are the factors that will help to sustain local communities and that retaining primary school rolls is an explicit desirable outcome of doing so.’

      Equally the researcher of the second study stated ‘“My research did not recommend the closure of rural primary schools. It highlighted the importance of rural schools in enhancing the social and economic sustainability of some areas.”

      We would welcome more research into this area find it disturbing that COSLA are seeking to reduce the importance of this issue. COSLA have specifically asked the Commission to provide clarity on what is expected and proportional for authorities to evidence during their consideration of community impact and expressed a clear dissatisfaction that communities expect Councils to undertake unique research and reports into every closure proposal. Whilst ARSN recognise that some generic research may be applicable to all closure proposals it is quite clear that each community will have local issues that are specific to their community and their community only. We consider COSLA’s desire to minimize the requirement for community impact assessments of closure proposals as having questionable motive and contrary to the Commission’s remit.

      COSLA’s letter also dismisses the impact of GAE, questions the ability of campaigners to understand the complexities of local government finance and appears to take offence that officer’s competence is questioned. This assumption that the public has neither the capacity nor experience to challenge is symptomatic of a culture that fails to recognise the abilities of the Scottish public and conveniently ignores the proven errors made by Council officers in a number of closure proposals. The Scottish Rural Schools Network has, on numerous occasions, highlighted fundamental errors in Council’s calculation of GAE with proposal papers having to be revised as a direct consequence.

      COSLA further highlights their concern about delivery of the CfE in rural schools. This is an argument that has been repeated, practically verbatim, in numerous closure proposals despite a lack of evidence to support it. ARSN can highlight many examples of small rural schools delivering CfE and receiving ‘Excellent’ classifications in their HMIE/Education Scotland reports in this category. If individual councils are struggling to deliver CfE in a small school then they should identify the root cause of this rather than blaming it on school size. School size has been proven not to be a limiting factor and the Rural Education Commission confirmed this during its visit to Lochgilphead Joint Campus in March 2012. An analysis of the submissions to the Commission’s call for evidence highlights that teachers do not believe that school size is a limiting factor in the delivery of CfE despite council claims. That the opinion of practitioners appears to be being ignored by elected members is of great concern to ARSN and makes us sceptical about COSLA’s claim that ‘Councils want to do the best for Scotland’s children.

      Just as COSLA are claiming small schools will struggle to deliver CfE it is also possible to construct a counter argument that small schools will be more effective in implementing CfE than larger schools. Mixed age classes are more common in rural primaries than in urban schools with studies demonstrating that mixed age learning tends to have a positive educational effect on pupils and that small class size has beneficial effects on group learning, largely through better discipline when there are fewer groups and also the ability of the teacher to give time to each group rather than having to police discipline.

      Given that the rural education commission is still to complete its work it is strange that COSLA choose this particular time to issue this letter to the national media and we can only conclude that it has been done in an attempt to inappropriately influence the commission’s conclusions.

      Or, in shorter terms, COSLA are talking twaddle!

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  1. Yes Simon, we all saw and tell me did you notice the complete flippin lack of evidence COSLA supplied to back up their propaganda? mmmmmm?

    Wonder what they think they have to gain by such a ridiculously baseless article, when the Commission is nearing a conclusion to it’s work. Unless of course, COSLA are pooping their pants that the Commission comes back with the results COSLA don’t want… mmmm?

    My evening will be very pleasant thank you :)

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  2. Could it be that post-election we may have a different COSLA-one that better represents the mood of the country?
    The times they are a-changing?

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  3. Given the recent COSLA report,the unrepentant stance of many Councillors currently in post, and bearing in mind the imminence of the Local Council Elections on May 3rd, it is perhaps timely to remind everyone that on 25th November 2010, and in the face of huge and vocal opposition, the following 19 Councillors voted to close 25 Primary Schools in Argyll and Bute:

    • Rory Colville, Liberal Democrat
    • Robin Currie, Liberal Democrat
    • Vivien Dance, Independent
    • Alison Hay, Liberal Democrat
    • Daniel Kelly, Independent
    • David Kinniburgh, Conservative
    • Neil MacKay, Independent
    • Bruce Marshall, Independent
    • Donnie Macmillan, Independent
    • Duncan McIntyre, Independent
    • James McQueen, Independent
    • Ellen Morton, Liberal Democrat
    • Gary Mulvaney, Conservative
    • Andrew Nisbett, Liberal Democrat
    • William Petrie, Provost, Independent
    • Al Reay, Liberal Democrat
    • Elaine Robertson, Independent
    • Len Scoullar, Independent
    • Dick Walsh, Independent and Council Leader.

    It might be prudent for voters to bear this record in mind in respect of those of the above who are offering themselves for re-election. Is the future of our children safe in their hands? The record suggests not, and the remedy is obvious. DON’T VOTE FOR THE NAUGHTY NINETEEN! Vote instead for candidates who have a CLEAR MANIFESTO COMMITMENT to keeping our schools open. This is our one chance to put things right once and for all. A new brush sweeps clean! GRRR

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  4. Thanks Tyger I’ll certainly bear this voting record in mind. As will many others I’m sure.

    You guys are going to be so ticked if these folks get returned. :)

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  5. I’m not interested in trying to impress anyone on here as sadly none of you can vote for me ;-)

    I am 100 per cent behind that statement though. Communities need rural schools just as schools need communities. I’ve seen the after effects of a community school being demolished (in Edinburgh) and the effect on the local area was devastating.

    God willing, our own battle to save Muirfield will end on May 3rd. I then hope Arbroath can move forward and also hope that Argyll doesnt have to suffer the same agony of school closure proposals as now.

    Good luck A&B and please choose your votes wisely. ;-)

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      • Drumbrae Primary School. Very sad what happened to that community. It closed just a few months before the Schools Consultation Act came into force after a very vocal campaign by locals. I used to live just down the road from it in Edinburgh and when I visited the site last year I was shocked at how derelict it looked.

        A community that had a strong connection because of the school devastated by the demolition squad.

        Thanks for the good luck wishes!

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  6. Pingback: Argyll News: Candidate response to Argyll Rural Schools Network | For Argyll

  7. We all know that money is tight just now and education does take a large slice of the local budget. Having said that, I think that any school closure has to be approached with great caution.
    The closing a school not only affects the viability of the immediate community, but also has long term effects on surrounding areas and its infrastructure. In fact the closure could cause more problems than it solves.

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    • Not according to COSLA – they believe that there really isn’t much of a correlation between the closing of a school and impact on the surrounding area.

      Of course they have no evidence to support this claim – but then again nor did Ally McLeod when he claimed Scotland would win the world cup and…. oh yeh.

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  8. Oh dear! Just seen the list of councillors/candidates who have signed up for this.

    Helmets on, popcorn at the ready, I have a feeling the fun is about to begin.

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