Students returning to schools in Argyll and Bute for the new academic year will find a new Education and Skills Development role in their education mix. The post, a job share for Kirsty Jackson-Stark and Katie Evamy, will be funded by community benefit money given to communities local to SPR’s Beinn an Tuirc windfarm. Beinn an Tuirc is on the top of the central spinal ridge of the Kintye peninsula, directly west of Torrisdale, south of Carradale.
A press release on this development says: ‘Over £100,000 made by SPR over three years will support the role which will focus on broadening and strengthening the renewables-related skills base locally as well as promoting employability skills and preparing school leavers for local opportunities.
‘The Education and Skills Development role will work with school pupils and community groups across Argyll and Bute to generate interest and promote careers in the renewables sector and encourage the local people to develop the skills mix to be able to take advantage of renewables employment opportunities.
‘SPR has supported an Education and Development role in the area since 2007 in conjunction with ALlenergy and Argyll and Bute council, but the role has been enhanced to better support the local community and schools. An active member of Argyll and Bute Renewable Alliance (ABRA), SPR is working with local stakeholders to ensure that the renewable energy it is generating boosts the local economy and creates opportunities for local people.
‘To date, SPR has provided over £14.5m in community benefit funds in its areas of operation across the UK. Argyll and Bute has received more than £850,000 through the community benefit funds generated by the operational Cruach Mhor, Clachan Flats and Beinn an Tuirc windfarms.’
A key to the driver is the following statement that: ‘SPR will further boost the funding it provides to local projects if consent is granted for an extension to Beinn an Tuirc.’
Windfarms have been consented with the support – or muted objection – from communities effectively bought off by promises of community benefit cash.
If one accepts that these things will in the end be forced into existence regardless, then communities might as well take the cash and let the wind farms happen sooner rather than later.
But if this is the pragmatic reality then there remains a serious argument about the best use of such cash and, in this instance for example, about who takes the decisions on how community benefit cash will be spent.
We note that there is no mention in this press release of community councils’ involvement in the decision taking – nor of which school will be the base for the post; nor of the schools which will experience this addition to their curriculum.
The application of a tad of common sense to this proposition is enough to show what a waste of money it is.
One post shared between two half timers covering the very ill specified and frankly woolly remit set out above can achieve little if anything except a passing distraction.
If, as it seems, Argyll and Bute Council has, with AliEnergy [which seems to be the current employer of the two staff to share this post], been a major player in the decision as to how this £100,000 over three years should be spent, it would make a lot more sense to put it into the council’s challenged education budget.
Everything is welcome that can help to improve teaching where standards are falling markedly across Scotland in the foundation skills of numeracy and literacy; and where the teaching profession in Scotland is facing serious recruiting problems.
A total of £100k is not to be sneezed at if applied where it might actually make a difference. Spending it on a minimal provision of a cosmetic addition when the basics of learning are enfeebled is a foolish waste of scarce resources.
Kirsty Jackson-Stark, Education and Skills Development, ALIenergy, says: ‘I am excited about this new role as it provides the opportunity to work in partnership with key local agencies to inspire young people and the community about renewable energy. It also delivers and facilitates opportunities for young people and the local community to obtain skills enabling them to take up employment opportunities within the renewables sector.’
It’s good to see this excitement – but one job in two halves, spread very thinly? Come on.
The photograph above shows Katie Evamy talking to students at Oban’s Festival of the Sea.