“Teaching Scotland’s Future”

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th March 2011.

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Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

I thank the Scottish Government for providing an advance copy of the minister’s statement although, in truth, there is so little substance in it that Michael Russell would not have been criticised for providing information in advance of the statement had he responded to the questioner who asked him about Donaldson at the TES hustings last week.

The context of the statement is 3,000 fewer teachers in Scotland’s schools, barely 10 per cent of newly qualified teachers in permanent employment and the teachers unions balloting with a strong recommendation to reject proposals from the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities affecting their conditions of service. In her statement, Angela Constance mentioned the three pillars of the Government’s approach to improving education in Scotland. However, few people apart from ministers believe that the curriculum for excellence is being successfully implemented in every school in Scotland; we have the exact opposite of financial stability, with education budgets being cut next year by between 1 and 1.5 per cent in virtually every local authority in Scotland; and the third pillar—“the continued pursuit of excellence in teaching”—has been seriously undermined through Renfrewshire Council’s proposal to chop access to teachers by two and a half hours each week.

What can we say about a response to a report that accepts every recommendation—all 50 recommendations—but says nothing whatever about the resources that are needed to act on them? Angela Constance was not at the conference in January at which Graham Donaldson presented his report. He made it clear that significant resources would be required to implement, among other things, its recommendations on continuing professional development; however, there is no number for that in the Government’s document or the accompanying material. The Government’s commitment is a paper commitment—there is no sense of what the most urgent priorities are. For the record, I ask the minister how much money the Government is committing to the implementation of Donaldson’s recommendations—specifically recommendations 42, 44, 46, 48 and 50?

The Government has shown itself incapable of implementing its national economic priorities—