The educational psychologists workforce planning group met on 8 March this year, following a meeting on 25 October 2012. We are currently working with the group to monitor the impact of the changes in funding arrangements for the training of educational psychologists in Scotland.
The group has worked to revise its terms of reference and will meet again on 12 September. Full minutes and agendas can be provided to Claire Baker and to others who are interested.
In evidence to the Education and Culture Committee yesterday, Carolyn Brown from the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists described significant cuts in educational psychologists in the past three years as taking us “back to square 1”. Under previous Administrations, we saw an increase, but under this Government we have seen a decline. Is the cabinet secretary satisfied that the current number of educational psychologists is sufficient to meet demand, considering that we are now practically back to the staffing levels of 2001, when the Currie report was published?
There is no end to the spending demands of the Labour Opposition. In addition to that demand today, yesterday Mr Findlay was calling for free entry to Our Dynamic Earth. There is nothing that it will not demand of this Administration.
Of course there are restrictions on public finance and they will have some effect, but there is a new agreed funding position with the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, whereby students are eligible to apply for the £3,400 postgraduate tuition-fee loan for each of the two years, which they will not start repaying until they are in employment and earning over a threshold. An alternative funding mechanism is the professional career development loan, which is a deferred-payment bank loan to help to pay for vocational training that leads to employment in the United Kingdom and European Union. The loan can cover up to two years of learning and can be between £300 and £10,000. Students have to start paying that money back once they finish their courses.
Of course there are difficulties within the current public finances. If Claire Baker really wishes to make a difference to that, I commend to her support for independence, when all the resources of Scotland will be available to the people of Scotland. That is the way forward.
Yes. Well—it is a point of order, or whatever way you want to take it, Presiding Officer.
First, I did not say yesterday what the cabinet secretary suggested. I hope that he will withdraw what he alleged that I said.
Secondly, the point that Claire Baker mentioned was made in evidence to the Education and Culture Committee yesterday. Maybe the cabinet secretary will reflect on that as well, and apologise to Ms Baker.