Fife Council Education Department (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

1. To ask the Scottish Executive when it last met Fife Council education department and what was discussed. (S3O-13215)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is in regular contact with Fife Council about a range of subjects relating to education and children and young people. I met members of Fife Council education department at the opening of Parkhill primary school in September last year. The Minister for Children and Early Years met Fife Council education department in April and May 2009 to discuss child protection services and other issues relating to education.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

The cabinet secretary is aware that the council’s decision to close Ardroy outdoor education centre has caused a lot of concern among teachers, pupils and parents. It is a popular facility and one that contributes to the wellbeing of children throughout the region, particularly those from deprived communities. One concerned constituent said to me, “My worry is that, if they close Ardroy, many children just won’t get the opportunity to go anywhere.” Does the cabinet secretary agree that Fife Council’s decision is short-sighted and not in the best interests of Fife children?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

No, I do not agree because, originally, the short-sightedness lay with the previous Labour administration of Fife, which failed to maintain the centre. The centre faces some fairly horrific costs to replace its sewerage system, and it is under a notice from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Public finances are severely constrained, as a result of Labour misspending and incompetence. In all those circumstances, the centre’s closure is deeply regrettable.

However, I am very glad to say that Fife Council has confirmed that alternative opportunities for young people will be offered. I think that that shows the effectiveness of the present Fife Council, as opposed to the previous one.