Comment posted Argyll Rural Schools Network puts all candidates to the test on rural schools by Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll.
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!
Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll also commented
- 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.
- There may be an occasional update to the list as responses come in so do check back prior to election day.
- Just a quick update on this. Excellent response so far (from candidates across A&B) with still a week to go before we publish the list of candidates.
Things are being arranged with the media as well.
- Well if we get a new Administration then it will a SNP led coalition meaning the leader will be an SNP councillor however George would be an excellent canidate to be deputy leader.
- oh and also George Freeman obviously.
Recent comments by Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll
- So who’s in the SNP Council Group today – and should they be?
I am not a fan of the multi member ward system. However whilst I would welcome it being abandoned I tend to think that is simply papering over the cracks. Local Government in Scotland needs a far more dramatic overhaul than that.
32 local authorities is a ridiculous number to have for a country with a population only just exceeding 5 million. There are over 1,200 councillors in Scotland with the geographical area for local authorities ranging from about 25 square miles to about 12,500 square miles! Similarly the population ranges from about 20,000 to well over half a million.
Cutting the number of councillors is going to make an insignificant impact to costs in the grand scheme of things. For example the total cost of councillors to A&B in 2013/14 made up about 0.7% of total employee costs. So yes there are some savings that could be made but they are not going to deliver radical savings or a material reinvestment in service delivery.
I would kick start a major overhaul of local government by reducing the number of councils in Scotland from 32 to maybe between 15 or 20. Once we have a more manageable number of local authorities then proper consideration can be given to devolving power to them, and reintroducing more fiscal control at a local level (which should begin with abandoning the council tax freeze and reversing the centralisation of policy making that is associated with the freeze). Councils should be given the appropriate levers to determine what is strategically best for their area, reflecting local needs, in terms of increasing or decreasing taxation (and not just council tax).
Having less councils wouldn’t totally rid us of the issue of some councils having relatively small populations compared to others (due to the geography of Scotland) but it would mean there is less power hoarded by the two big city councils. Hopefully this would result in more meaningful efforts at partnership working and shared services without the ‘little guys’ being muscled out by overpowering large councils.
It always seemed strange to me that Scotland was moving toward being an independent country at the same time as there being ongoing centralisation of power within Scotland itself. It is a contradiction in democratic will.
- When is Argyll and Bute going to publish its mini-count breakdown of the indy referendum vote here?
I can understand why some people would be interested in seeing a breakdown however I personally fail to see any great value in it. We don’t need to encourage further division, quite the opposite. It was a national vote where every vote carried equal weight, I think it’s better leaving it as a national result.
- Lifeline for wildlife – 5p per carrier bag in Scotland from today
I have no problem with this law. If anything I don’t think it is steep enough. I was amazed at the 80% statistic and find myself questioning it’s credibility as I wouldn’t expect 5p to be much of a deterrent. I would have preferred total removal of plastic bags and the adoption of something more in.line with French supermarkets.
- For Argyll challenge to candidates for Thursday’s Oban North & Lorn by-election
That’s right, never mind promoting the credentials of the candidate – as long as they have the same gender!
I don’t know Stephanie Irvine and am not for a second suggesting she is or isn’t a credible candidate. However I would wager if she is credible she would prefer for people to vote for her on the basis of what she can bring to the post rather than simply because of ‘women supporting women’
- General election television debates
Great more debates, just what we need, more mindless chest thumping my quips better than your quip, or fans of both camps claiming irrelevant victories.
I couldn’t care less about arguments over who should and shouldn’t be involved. I’d rather they were scrapped so money wasn’t wasted on a gruesome spectacle which serves no positive value and only paints UK politics in an ugly light.
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