Time we started a blog debate on this very important topic.
The Borders Party ranks include several professional educators. I agree that this is an important area and that for many people the education provided to their children is the most crucial council service.
It has suggested that public meetings be held to consult. But before that we can chat online and hopefully folk interested in education in the Scottish Borders will join in. This will at least help to identify the areas of greatest concern, before any public meeting.
I feel that the new SBC policy, yet to be adopted, of saving money by combining headships and reducing the number of promoted posts will save small sums at the expense of risking the culture in well run schools by spreading management too thinly. It will give financial savings on paper but may lose value in terms of educational outcomes.
Is this a Borders Party theme? To take account of value rather than just cost?
It is much easier for the Council to listen to the bean counters and look narrowly at cost, but a Borders Party administration will look more widely at value for money, which involves listening, thinking and making balanced judgements.
Already, parents are reacting angrily to Transforming Children's Services as cost cutting dressed up as something else. Surely, it is all too typical of modern government, local and national, to try to hide the truth under a layer of spin.
Another favourite tactic is to bewilder the public by providing such a weight of argument as to defy all opposition. That's weight as measured on the scales rather than in the halls of debate. I have been sent a pile of Transforming Children's Services documents as part of the public consultation exercise and I guess I'll have to try not to get bogged down thinking about how much it cost the council taxpayer to print and distribute these glossy 48-page tomes and start ploughing through.
Borders Party thoughts on education hitherto have been:
a) to retain local schools in rural areas wherever possible
b) to oppose entering into Public Private Partnerships, which entail long-term debt
c) to stress value above cost.
Of course the council has to take account of cost but it is just as important to recognise value. As has been said elsewhere, flinging money at education has clearly not worked. This has been true nationally in the last ten years or so, where expenditure has risen enormously, standards are seen by many as falling and teachers feel so wrapped up in targets and testing that they cannot teach! I'm told of a sign in a teacher's office which read 'The more I test, the less I teach. Soon I will know with absolute certainty that they know nothing!'
One of the problems with national targets and an over-centralised education regime is that local education authorities have less and less room for maneouvre. Our challenge is to identify ways in which resources in the Borders education service can be used more effectively for better outcomes for Borders youngsters.
Over to you.