Scottish education – intellectual initiative coming from the Scottish Conservatives

The Scottish Conservatives  may have no hope of winning the coming election but are the only party providing the substantive thinking in what is a markedly poor election campaign.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon recently had to embrace as government policy an initiative proposed earlier in the chamber at Holyrood by Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson – which Ms Sturgeon then simply dismissed.

Ruth Davidson and the Teach First initiative to reduce educational inequality

Teach First is  a social enterprise registered as a charity in England and Wales and aiming to address educational inequality born of social disadvantage.

Its work is centred on developing a partnership approach ‘with schools, universities, charities, businesses and individuals who share our vision that no child’s success is limited by their background’.

Their strategy in confronting the impact on educational achievement of social deprivation is unequivocal and obsiously both wise and prctical. It is to put the teacher at the head of progressive reform.

Teach First says: ‘We know it takes time and persistence to change the story of a child’s lifetime. We believe that this can start with the dedication and leadership of a great teacher who inspires a child to work towards the future they want. Each year we train and support new teachers to work in primary and secondary schools serving low-income communities across the UK.’

These teachers’ schools partner with Teach First – and the result is impressive: The organisation notes that: ‘…between 2003 and 2011 London schools have moved from being the lowest performing in England, to being the highest performing and now have the highest percentage of schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.’.

It points out that: ‘The latest research on the subject, Lessons from London Schools: investigating the successa report by the CfBT Education Trust and the Centre for London thinktank – has suggested that improvements in London’s schools are not due to one single factor but to a combination of enabling factors. The report identified Teach First, along with improved support from local authorities, the academies scheme and the London Challenge as the four “key” enablers of London’s success.’

Teach First flags up the fact that: ‘Schools in London where we’ve placed 3,000 teachers since 2003, have moved from being the lowest performing in England, to the highest performing.’

It is interesting to see what is politically centre left thinking adopted by a centrist one-nation Scottish Conservative group – and initially rejected out of hand by an SNP First Minister who has nailed her own and her party’s colours to a strongly socialist mast.

Ms Davidson suggested that Teach First was an initiative south of the border that would very much fit Scotland’s urgent need to address Scotland’s notable educational inequality which derives from social deprivation. Despite such stirring rhetoric from the SNP government, it has made little or no headway in improving  educational attainment in children from poorer backgrounds.

It may well be that Ms Stugeon knew nothing about The Teach First enterprise when Ms Davidson proposed it for Scotland – and dismissed it automatically on the basis that anything to do with England and to do with the Scottish Conservatives could only be of no interest to the SNP.

The First Minister has clearly become better informed and has had the grace to open up to the powerful advantages this approach has to offer to educational provision in low income areas north of the border.

Adam Tomkins and the fiction of free higher education

Adam Tomkins, Professor of Law at Glasgow University, was, with former leader, Annabel Goldie, one of the Scottish Conservatives delegates to the Smith Commission and is standing for the party in the Glasgow Anniesland constituency in the May 2016 Scottish Election.

He went to a comprehensive school, leaving at the age of eighteen and going straight to university – an environment which he has never since left, teaching in the law schools of three of the countries top universities – London, Oxford and Glasgow.

Both of his parents were school teachers so education has always been a formative part of his personal world at all levels.

A few days ago, on 7th April, Adam Tomkins wrote one of the best and most clear thinking analyses of university education, of the funding of university education and of the way in which the SNP policy of ‘free’ university tuition for Scottish students studying in Scotland actually brings about the opposite results from those intended.

In the article [online here] Professor Tomkins opens by pointing ut that there is no such thing as ‘free’ education, in Scotland or anywhere else. Someone pays.

In underlining the fact that good Universities act as a sort of imprimatur for their host cities, a testimony to ability, capacity, achievement, potential, forwad thinking, progress, enlightenment, engagement – and sheer worth.

They underwrite soundness and they attract inward investment  -not only to themselves in research funding and major donations but to their host locations. As Adam Tomkins says, imagine either Glasgow or Edinburgh without their successful universities. – ‘both places would be diminished’.

This is the case for public funding of higher education, along with priary and secondary education and, today, nursery schooling.

As Tomkins says, ‘It is in the public interest that we have well educated children’.

It then goes without saying that if we need well educated children, we cannot afford an education provision that is unable to discover, nurture and challenge the individual growth potential of bright children from deprived backgrounds.

The answer is not, of course, to do what the SNP Government is  now doing – lowering the threshold of entrance to university for candidates from poorer backgrounds; and, by so doing so, creating two powerfully negative outcomes:

  • devaluing the currency of degrees – the answer is to ensure better educated children at primary and secondary level – to compete on merit for university places;
  • breeding an expectation that a university education is a universal right – rather than a privilege to be earned and enhanced by personal achievement.

Tomkins dispenses with this expectation by drawing a clear distinction between school and university education, saying: ‘Unlike going to school, attending university is a privilege not a birthright.’

The Tomkins argument is that the worth of a good university to its location supports the rightness of the public funding they receive; and that the personal worth of a good degree to an individual graduate supports the rightness of their making a contribution to the higher education they have received.

There is a new and eminently wise proposition on this from the Scottish Conservatives, addressed earlier and again below – which honours that obligation  to contribute in exchange for personal benefit and which does not cripple a student and a graduate with the debt levels imposed by the imposition of annual tuition fees.

On the matter of the SNP Government’s opposition to tuition fees. Professor Tomkinsoints our some anomalies it throws up – such as the fact that postgraduate degree students at Scottish universities –  regardless of whether they are Scots or from outside Scotland – pay fees; as do postgraduate research students.

The lack of public funding to support postgraduate students is hard to justify relatively, since the expertise gained in these degrees and in research is more valuable to the nation than are undergraduate degrees, too high a proportion of whose graduates have little market value and end up in low paid and manual jobs.

Adam Tomkins then shows how providing Scottish students with ‘free’ education at Scottish universities actually makes it harder for them to get access to those universities.

He points out that ‘free’ students – whose fees are covered by the far from generous funding the Scottish Government is able to provide to the universities – are of substantially less financial value to universities than are fee paying students from elsewhere.  The universities consequently take fewer Scottish applicants than they night otherwise do.

Universities are also cutting the number and variety of the undergraduate courses because they generate less fee-paying income, which is additional to grant funding.

In parallel with this, they are increasing the menu of taught Masters degree courses, because these fee paying courses, can be sold to students from other counties – and particularly to the ambitious in the emerging BRIC economies.

This practice props up the finances of struggling Scottish universities  [and other British universities, where undergraduate tuition fees charged to all comers cannot match the level of the fees chargeable for postgraduate courses.

However, the calibre of these courses and the volumes of pstgraduates they are turning out produces a culture described by Tomkins as ‘international teaching factories’.

The picture painted by Tomkins of both the undergraduate and taught postgraduate environments here immediately raises a series of core question it is not the professor’s purpose to address in this current piece. These issues, though, have long needed to be addressed, with academia and society both preferring to adopt the unhelpful ostrich position. They include, for example:

  • are there subjects for which there is no justification today to offer at undergraidate and postgraduate degree level – and let’s be really provocative and offer as an example here, not the universal Aunt Sally of ‘Media Studies’ but the sacred cow of English literature?
  • ought the state to be selective in its funding of courses and of the study of courses, choosing to fund [well and developmentally] the subjects in which the country is most urgently in need of more widespread capability [such as maths and computing]; and most urgently in need of high level specialist expertise [such as science, engineering, energy, medicine, business and law]?

The victims who pay for free university tuition in Scotland

Tellingly, Adam Tomkins nails the real victims – and there are two types of these – who are the compulsory payers of the price of the SNP Government’s policy of universal free university tuition for Scottish students studying in Scotland.

These victims may be invisible but in economic terms one type has become a major cost themselves to the Scottish economy; and the other a torpedo to the effort to address the educational attainment of students from poorer backgrounds.

In order to pay for the policy of free university undergraduate tuition, the Scottish Government eviscerated the vital College sector, cutting a monstrous 152,000 places cut.

This limits the life expectations and the nature of the economic contribution of many of the nation’s workforce – and of the many who now may not even make it to that role.

It also hits the robust capability of Scotland’s workforce. As Adam Tomkins says: ‘Scotland’s economy  needs a higher-skilled workforce, not a less skilled one.

The second compulsory victim of the SNP’s misguided policy of free university tuition resjlts flrm the wrecking ball the SNP has witlessly launched against its own efforts to act against the educational inequality resulting from social deprivation.

In Tomkins: words: ‘The SNP has sought to pay for its no-fees policy by slashing student bursaries. These essential lifelines for poorer students have been cut by £40 Million – that’s almost half – and the average grant has fallen from £1,860 a year in 2012 to nly £1,220 now.

‘This has resulted in a lower proportion of  students from the poorest backgrounds gimg to university in Scotland than in England – despite fees of £27,000 south of the border.

‘That damning fact should shame the Scottish Government, for there was a time when Scotland’s education was more egalitarian and less class-ridden than England’s. That was something to be proud of and the fact that the SNP has let it go is nothing short of a national disgrace.’

Graduate financial contributions

What Tomkins does at this point is to move on from the concept of two self-interested contributions to higher education – society at large and the individual who will personally benefit from the possession of greater knowledge and expertise to a certificated level.

He rightly leaves  public funding as a sine qua non and concentrates on the sort of contribution an individual graduate might make.

In England and Wales all students [and  Scotland, all non-Scottish students] pay tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses. The minimum charged for these is around £9,000 per annum. Undergraduate degrees south of the border take three years – but in Scotland the tradition is the four year degree.

Students take out loans to contribute to covering their costs – and graduate with what is now an average debt in excess of £30,000.

While students don’t pay the fees upfront. They only start repaying when they are earning at least £21,000 a year, £30,000 is a substantial weight of debt on young shoulder still with their way to make in the world.

It is hardly surprising that, in March 2014, the British government expected that around 45% of university graduates will not earn enough to repay their student loans.

If that figure were to reach 48.6% experts have calculated that the government will lose more money than it claws back by increasing fees in England to £9,000 a year. A 48.6% non-payment rate is more than possible. In May 2013 research conducted for The Mail on Sunday found that around 85% of students in England would never repay their student loans.

So what is a realistic and sustainable graduate contribution?

Professor Tomkins puts forward – and probably authored – the very clever proposal put forward by the Scottish Conservatives.

Assuming that four year degrees continue to be the norm in Scotland across the subject spectrum, the Davidson team have come up with an affordable token contribution of £1,500 per annum – totalling £6,000 to be levied as a graduate tax and payable only when the graduate is earning a good salary.

This has much to commend it.

  • It does not impose the distraction of a major debt on young graduates starting out on a working life.
  • It is not enough to seduce a government to build much in the way of financial planning on the [inevitably disappointed] assumption of a healthy percentage of repayment of charges at a higher level;
  • it is a not-inconsiderable but manageable debt of honour for all individuals who have personally benefited from the major contribution made by the public [though the state] to their higher education;
  • as a affordable ‘debt of honour’ contribution, higher payment rates can more realistically be anticipated; and an inspirational symbolic purpose found to which finds arising may be deployed [competitive scholarships, perhaps, for the able but financially disadvantaged potential student?].

The fact that the fresh intellectual contribution to the key education issue in this election campaign is coming from the Davidson Conservatives could not more strongly underscore the strength and capacity this group can bring to bear as the main opposition to the all-powerful SNP – who will win in May by a country mile.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • If Nicola Sturgeon has retrospectively reconsider a conservative proposal to be worth exploring then credit to her. I’m very jaded by politics when different parties default to opposing just for the sake of not being seen to agree that an idea suggested by an opposition party might have some credit.
    The TV husting have been cringeworthy as each party seeks to exploit and draw out the most tenuous and nuanced difference between them, yet when someone raised the point at one of them about parties agreeing, there was an almost nauseating love-in saying how well they all got on and agreed on some stuff. No party is proposing to do anything bad, but a more balance parliament in Scotland would be a good thing. SNP will win of course, but my hope is for a smaller margin so they don’t have the power to go almost unchallenged in leading the country. This must lead to better debate, better politics and better decisions for the whole country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    Jerry McIver April 10, 2016 6:30 pm Reply
  • I’d be more welcoming of Mr Tomkin’s concern if his Party did not punish the poor and as a result undermine their opportunity to first manage their poverty and be lifted out of it.

    What merit in someone speaking warm words when simultaneously putting the boot in the poor?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

    Graeme McCormick April 10, 2016 7:21 pm Reply
    • Graeme, the most unbalanced society of have and have not is Scotlands, during the last 9 years this void has grown, food banks keep appearing, we have thousands of empty tenements and houses etc

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      richard April 10, 2016 7:46 pm Reply
      • Why?

        Because sod’s like Cameron and the other tories named persecute the infirm, the weak, the poor but are too busy lining the pockets by ensuring their money is in places like Panama.

        The lie? we are in it altogether.

        How many £100000’s from mummy would help a local foodbank?

        Thought Dick that you could have worked out your own question but you are politically blind and naive.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

        No Cheese Here April 10, 2016 8:07 pm Reply
        • I take it as read that this is the sum total of any “intellectual initiative coming from” NCH.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

          Karl Hughes April 10, 2016 8:51 pm Reply
          • Iraqi Karl the tax avoider has nothing to free Scotland other than criticise. When are you off to Iran?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

            No Cheese Here April 11, 2016 8:44 am
        • NCH, Obviously hatred has blinded you, in Scotland there are in excess of 48,000 millionaires, that’s a lot when you look at the size of the working population, now let’s have a quick look at the role of Mr Sout er and the Chinese deal that isn’t a deal or is it, we’ll maybe it is dependent on who leaks the next lot of info, then we have all these well known SNP supporters who are tax domicile abroad.
          As for the private matter of what a father or mother gives their children what has that got to do with being Prime Minister, are you saying no one should inherit anything from parents etc.
          A good example is an elderly couple in Edinburgh who bought a house 40 years ago and have saved and paid off their mortgage, the house is now valued at £1.5m, it is not illegal or evading taxation for them to gift the house to their children and provided they live for seven years no IHT is payable, what about ISA’s, pensions, mortgages.
          What about the gift from the SNP to those that can afford to pay,FREE prescriptions, Frozen council tax, FREE travel over 60, all without any form of means test.
          You are a very bitter individual NCH, I’m glad I don’t support any political party, I might end up like you and your pals.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

          Richard April 10, 2016 8:55 pm Reply
        • It’s sods, not sod’s – what happened to your education?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

          Robert Wakeham April 10, 2016 10:20 pm Reply
        • One of many unfortunate consequences of the recent increase in political engagement, and one that is demonstrated by so many keyboard warriors, is the bitter and, all consuming, resentment displayed towards those deemed to be privileged and wealthy.
          Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, is an unattractive trait, as demonstrated by the sort of unpleasant rhetoric often used on social media to rail against those with a bob or two in the bank. My suspicion is that many who shout the loudest do themselves have a bob or two in the bank, and are comfortably off, but choose to protest to score political points, by associating themselves with those who are genuinely and truly in need.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

          Charlie Jack April 11, 2016 1:08 pm Reply
        • No Cheese Here, Stupid boy.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

          Orwell's Asinus April 11, 2016 4:30 pm Reply
      • Because people like you Dick have the thought process of a 11th Century feudal Baron.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

        Hugh Jazz April 10, 2016 9:47 pm Reply
        • HJ, are you embarrassed that so many Scots are in the millionaire bracket or is ambition banned.
          What is wrong is that the SNP have failed in helping people by creating wealth, creating the right climate for companies to grow, educating people and utilising their skills, not everybody wants or needs to go to university.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

          Richard April 11, 2016 7:28 am Reply
        • By coincidence HJ, I was drawn into a discussion with a clever African co-worker this morning. It started with him asking if some people struggled to get food in my country.
          I explained to him about food banks and also how farms got grants not to grow food so that the price would be artificially raised, how we used to live off the land when I was young, making our own food and fuel but how rich people had taken the land over and turned it into special sites for birds and animals, anything but to support ordinary people.
          His story was almost a mirror reflection. The tribes who had got rich on 15 years of oil wealth had parcelled the land up for themselves and those who had always survived off it now had nowhere to live off and were suffering in the slums of the city.
          Feudalism is like a cancer that even the jungle cannot tame. We need to win our country back from those who see wealth as being a millionaire or whatever benchmark they equate to. Being rich is being part of a society that cares for everyone, earning what we can is obviously to our good but we must never lose sight of those in need, helping them to help themselves.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

          Murdoch MacKenzie April 11, 2016 8:20 pm Reply
          • Aah Murdoch, I thought one of your biggest peeve’s was some bounder stole land from one of your ancestors and you should be entitled to what is rightly yours?

            If I recall your descendants ‘owned’ a lot of land, did they not operate a feudal system?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

            John M April 11, 2016 9:00 pm
          • Your memory is not 100% John M. My family never “owned” land. There was Clan land that was held by their Clan Chief under the Scottish Kings. The Chiefs got detached from the people after the Unions, spending too much time in London, and became themselves, with London made laws, thieving feudal landlords. My argument has always been that the Clan lands were the peoples land gifted from The Scottish Kings, and that they were stolen by the new London-centric Chieftains.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            Murdoch MacKenzie April 12, 2016 2:38 am
          • And I take it MM that you also wrote the script for “Braveheart”… you live in a surreal world of your own making… the supposed halcyon days of the past… move on, no going back………thankfully.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

            Karl Hughes April 12, 2016 6:12 am
    • iI would point out that ‘his party’ have done no such thing Graeme – this is a Scottish election, and the Scottish Tories.

      They have their own leader, agenda and policies and it is on these the electorate should vote. We are not voting for ‘Call me Dave’ or ‘his’ party.

      It’s pointless using UK politics when discussing Scottish only elections – demeaning actually.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

      JB April 10, 2016 9:13 pm Reply
      • Branch office with a big garage for Woofies Tankette!
        You are easily fooled!!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

        Hugh Jazz April 10, 2016 9:15 pm Reply
        • Ah – that old chestnut – the ‘branch office’ claim.

          That only used to be reserved for Labour but as the Tories are clearly becoming a threat, it get aimed at them too.

          Original – and meaningless!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

          JB April 11, 2016 7:20 am Reply
      • The nats on here best get Scotland in order before they start the blame game on the rUK political parties… SNP is ” yet ” to use any of the powers they have been given… they continue to act like Scotland is just a suburb of London.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

        Karl Hughes April 10, 2016 9:23 pm Reply
        • PFI- Yoon Ponzi scheme
          They thought it would go like a dream
          The walls they did crash
          Yoons hopes were dashed
          Vote SNP and back the right team!!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

          Hugh Jazz April 10, 2016 9:44 pm Reply
  • Tory’s and morality,an oxymoron if ever there was one!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    Hugh Jazz April 10, 2016 9:13 pm Reply
    • It’s Tories, not Tory’s – what happened to your education?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Robert Wakeham April 10, 2016 10:16 pm Reply
  • Tomkins comes across as the typical Tory who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Who is he to disparage encouragement into higher education on the grounds that it breeds a notion of entitlement. Clearly, entitlement in Mr Tompkins mind is predicated on the wealth to pay fees, and good ones at that as he further disparages state funded indigenous students in favour of high fee paying foreign students. All completely reflective if the Tory mindset that concludes that education is only for those who can afford – the Old Etonioneque Bullingdon Club is very much alive in this Johnny Come Lately Conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    Willie April 10, 2016 11:12 pm Reply
  • And meanwhile in Edinburgh some 17 new schools built under the Conservative Party’s policy of PFI are closed due to structural safety concerns following the collapse of walls on two separate schools. With these schools having been built by the Conservative supporting Miller Group, the structural failures bring into sharp focus the outrage of the taxpayer being saddled with second rate jerry building at first rate prices. With some 9,000 children having to be squeezed into other schools the legacy of the rape of the public purse is clear for all to see. Clever, masterful eh what Newsroom?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

    Willie April 10, 2016 11:35 pm Reply
    • Willie, we might have only seen the tip of the iceberg – if, as it would appear, there are some pretty basic and widespread construction faults, then there’ll be architects and engineers having sleepless nights, as well as PFI financiers and contractors (to say nothing of building standards certifiers).
      And unless someone pulls their finger out pretty damn quick and gets ‘instant’ emergency accommodation arranged all hell’s going to break loose – and with the best will in the world, Willie, turning it into a game of party political ping-pong might be great fun but is hardly going to address the immediate problem.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham April 11, 2016 12:00 am Reply
      • I concur entirely with you Robert that this may be but the tip of the iceberg. PFI as a policy was a goldmine for the bankers, the lawyers and constructors. These schemes were hugely expensive to set up and brought with them equally expensive long term financing. However, concomitantly as you observe, the developers contractors were left to self cerify their work and with he who pays the piper calling the tune, the design envelope and construction build standards were pushed to the lowest margins one could self certify on. These particular structural faults in the Edinburgh schools will therefore be reflective of an underlying iceberg waiting ready to calve again and again as the structures age. Indeed, there is a new secondary school not all that far from you that has an inadequate gas supply to feed it’s five 300kw boilers. Quite how a gas engineer ever signed off on this one can only guess because in addition to the boiler tripping out whilst on a full load test during commissioning handover of the school, it did exactly the same thing a couple of years later in the very depths of an extremely prolonged cold spell. So yes, I don’t think we’ve seen the half of it yet.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        Willie April 11, 2016 12:30 am Reply
        • Willie

          What dont you understand? A PFI is a Government construct. Without Govt consent/sanction/inclusion there would be no PFI projects . Alex S’ Scottish Govt simply re-branded them to appear ” Scottish ” . Any construction failure has to be down to the statutory inspection regime . This is entirely vested in Scotland and where applicable with Scottish Govt agencies

          Also what has PFIs to do with the subject matter ie “Scottish education – intellectual initiative coming from the Scottish Conservatives”

          Or is your ‘ take’ another manifestation of the SNP psychosis ie the SNP refuses to accept any blame on issues which the SNP is culpable and responsible.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

          Scotnat April 11, 2016 8:55 am Reply
      • Robert, Willie can try and blame PFI but the problem is the company that built the schools and the building inspectors, last night it was said that there were no wall ties used!
        So as I have said before you need to look on your own doorstep, a Scottish company with Scottish management and Scottish building inspectors.
        It’s strange that the same problem doesn’t exist south of the border Willie but many councils used PFI to build schools etc.
        I wonder how many people in Scotland are waking up wondering if the side of their house is going to collapse, 17 schools are the tip of the iceberg.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        Richard April 11, 2016 7:38 am Reply
        • The real scandal is that 40% of PFI schools were built in Scotland with 8.5% of the population.
          Is Yoonionism working for you.
          Vote SNP 1&2

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

          Hugh Jazz April 11, 2016 3:11 pm Reply
          • The real scandal is either a) The design b) scope of work c) the contractor or ultimately d) the building inspectors ( local council) signed off that they were fit for purpose, It would be interesting to see the pre-handover work completion punch lists… if they still exist, anyhow…. nothing to see here, move on by… get the kids back to school. QED

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            Karl Hughes April 11, 2016 4:29 pm
  • And with 9,000 children with no where to go now that their schools are closed, maybe the intellectual Conservatives could suggest a clever solution to allow them to continue with their education. Perchance classes in the park, a field, local churches, the mission hall, maybe the good Prof Tompkins could advise – PFI was his party’s baby. Moreover, now that there is concern about other PFI schools elsewhere in Scotland having similar structural shortcomings, why do I not hear Ruth Davidson or her sidekick Baillie calling for an enquiry. The cat it seems has got their tongues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    Willie April 11, 2016 12:04 am Reply
    • Did ‘his party’ implement the PFI’ deals for these schools?

      (His party being Scottish Conservatives)

      We’re talking about a Scottish election here willie – you of all people should understand the distinction – shame you keep getting yourself confused.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      JB April 11, 2016 7:21 am Reply
    • Willie, if your not aware of it the SNP are meant to be governing Scotland, there problem, we have an education minister and she along with Sturgeon better have an answer today, half term is over and for many it’s the run up to important exams,
      Perhaps we will have to lower the pass mark again!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      Richard April 11, 2016 7:43 am Reply
  • Dick “there problems”? Surely “their”?

    Either way you are just making up stories. 0/10 for being a numpty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

    No Cheese Here April 11, 2016 8:48 am Reply
    • NCH, You and your pals have no answers, why haven’t the same problems occurred south of the border.
      I am sure all will be well when we are independent and part of the EU.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Richard April 11, 2016 11:01 am Reply
  • That excellent Glasgow architect, Alan Dunlop, wrote to the Herald back in 2005 to warn about the quality of buildings constructed under the Scottish Executive’s PPP programme:
    ‘The architects involved in the PPP process have no time for development because fees are cut to the bone so any idea of developing design is a non-starter.
    That means you get substandard buildings which are little more than a roof over your heads. It is designed for the accountant and the bean-counter and in 20 years’ time these buildings are likely to become as bad as the schools they replaced because the materials are not good enough and the design is poor.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    Robert Wakeham April 11, 2016 2:00 pm Reply
  • ” in 20 years’ time these buildings are likely to become as bad as the schools they replaced because the materials are not good enough ”

    The 1960s schools were generally built with reinforced concrete frameworks. These have become unsoumd because many were built using high alumina cement which reacted with the rebars causing rusting. This then lead to the concrete crumbling. Another factor was the then standard 1 to 10 concrete mix (now 1 to 5).

    All the new PFI achools I have come across during construction have been built with steel framework. So the alarming picures of collapsed walls are not indicative of an imminent collapse of the structure itself so they should survive longer, with suitable repairs.

    However, there seems to be a cyclic “fashion” for replacing schools on the basis that it contributes to better education, but does it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    JimB April 12, 2016 8:32 am Reply

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