The Scottish Government’s determination to make every school the same is wrong says Shetland MSP, Tavish Scott. This week the government have railroaded fixed teacher numbers, Gaelic education, class sizes ratios and a Head Teacher qualification through Parliament. On some of these crucial issues there has been no consultation with parents, teachers or local authorities. Tavish Scott is supporting the concerns expressed by Shetland Islands Council over the imposition of a one-size- fits all Scottish education policy.
Senior education manager Audrey Edwards, told Parliament’s Education Committee that the Head Teacher qualification was ill-suited to Shetland’s smaller schools. Head teachers often teach and the mandatory qualification would deter prospective head teachers from applying to posts in Shetland. The SIC’s political leader has also criticised the Scottish Government’s Attainment Fund. Shetland will get £23,000 out of a £100 million budget.
Tavish Scott said:
‘‘Why does our government continue to impose policies on our schools that will make education worse in Shetland? I share the concerns of Shetland Islands Council. Local schools are already facing difficulties in recruiting head teachers. It took an entire school year to recruit a head teacher for Fair Isle Primary School. Many of Shetland’s schools have smaller rolls compared to their mainland counterparts and have different requirements. Head teachers often teach pupils. The Western Isles Council, which faces similar recruitment challenges to Shetland, has expressed similar concerns about the Scottish Government’s mandatory Head Teacher qualification. But this government always knows best.
‘‘This week they made big changes to a proposed Education law. Central Government will now say the number of hours children will be taught in schools. So no Shetland or Scottish school can apply common sense and work with parents on the right structure to the school week. Instead Ministers know best. This comes on top of reintroducing national testing for primary and secondary pupils. This was a policy first introduced by the Tories. The Lib/Lab government worked with schools and parents to get rid of this. There was no evidence that national testing improved educational standards. Schools test and teachers take that responsibility. But no more. The Nationalist Government is reintroducing a Tory policy of national testing.
“To top it all, every school may have to teach Gaelic. Ministers have made this an entitlement of education. People should learn Gaelic if they want. But our islands do not have any tradtion of this. So why the Scottish Government is imposing this on every part of Scotland is beyond me. A sensible approach would be to encourage the teaching of Gaelic where the demand among parents and pupils exists.
“Education policy is now one size fits all. The Minister knows best. Yet on funding for attainment Shetland’s needs are ignored. Local teachers tell me that tackling and raising attainment in our schools is the right thing to do. They work hard on this every day. Yet the Edinburgh government does nothing to help. They impose policies on Shetland that make the financial situation worse and they take much needed flexibility away from schools and the council. Parents and our local authority will be dismayed by this approach to the teaching of our children.”