Tag Archives: SNP

Council rivals unite to stop school closing

Evening Times
THREE Labour councillors have struck an alliance with SNP rivals in an attempt to overturn a decision by the city council on the closure of a special needs school in Glasgow.

The move sees three members of the ruling administration in the north of the city join forces with two Nationalists to use city council procedures to thwart the plans to integrate children at the Gadburn school into a nearby mainstream primary.

The Labour councillors, including Gerry Leonard, a major party figure in the Springburn area, and their SNP rivals are upset that the head of education, Cllr Jean McFadden, is alleged to have said only a Nationalist elected member raised an objection to the plans.

Mr Leonard and colleagues Gilbert Davidson and Catherine McMaster dispute this and have signed up to the SNP plan to have last month’s decision revisited.

They claim the education department has been too hasty in its plans to shut Gadburn and that most parents are fearful of the impact of integration with a mainstream primary on their children.

We have been talking to parents to get a workable plan
Instead, they have been championing a joint campus with Barmulloch Primary.

Under council rules, five elected members are required to sign a “call-in” notice to have the decision revisited.

It is understood this is the first time there has been a clear bipartisan strategy involving Labour members to undo an administration decision.

Councillor Grant Thoms, who instigated the call-in, said: “The education department is being too hasty at attempting to close Gadburn Special School.

“Councillors have been talking to parents to get a workable plan so the two schools could share the same building in Germiston but keep their separate identities.

“I have no doubt co-location is the way forward to give parents and pupils time to adjust to such a drastic change.

A council spokeswoman said: “A call-in allows scrutiny and enables local elected members to support their constituents.”

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Each teaching post ‘chased by 17 applicants’

From the BBC

Every teaching vacancy in Scotland is being chased by an average of 17 applicants, according to official figures.

The competition for the posts varied from 49 for each job in Stirling to three per vacancy in Shetland.

The Liberal Democrats, who obtained the details through freedom of information requests, said the figures showed teachers’ talents were “being wasted”.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said the numbers were “a concern”.

In total, 75,579 applications were made for 4,520 vacancies in 2009-10 – an average of about 17 for each position.

The average number of applications per job included 14 in Aberdeenshire, 21 in Dundee, 27 in Edinburgh and six in Glasgow.

Aberdeen City Council said it did not hold the details.

Higher numbers included 47 in Midlothian, 37 in East Renfrewshire and 33 in North Lanarkshire.

Lower averages per job included five in the Western Isles, four in Dumfries and Galloway, five in Orkney and 10 in Moray.

‘Reduce competition’

Lib Dem education spokeswoman Margaret Smith said the figures “will be deeply concerning for teachers”.

She added: “The SNP said they would maintain the record number of teachers they inherited from the previous executive but teacher numbers are down by 3,000.

“Scotland’s young people are also missing out on the opportunity to learn from newly-trained, enthusiastic teachers who have a wealth of talent and skill, being wasted as they struggle to find jobs.”

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “The difficulties faced by teachers looking for a post is a concern.

“Scotland is already unique in guaranteeing a year’s employment after graduation from initial teacher education, but we want to do more and we are examining ways we can provide further help.

“While recent figures show that teacher unemployment is lower in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, we are still working hard to address the issue and have cut student intake, which will reduce competition for jobs.”

Must try harder

From Brian Taylor (BBC)

Good start but must try harder.

That will undoubtedly be the verdict of the opposition parties upon the latest plan for class sizes. Or at least the more polite and restrained among them.

More to the point, it will be Michael Russell’s verdict upon his own scheme. He knows, he knows, that, as it stands, it falls short of the SNP’s manifesto promise.

In summary, the education secretary is proposing to place a lower legal limit on the size of classes in Primary One.

The new limit, at 25, is designed to assist schools in capping class sizes where they face placing requests from parents. It will apply from 2011/12.

In confirming the policy, Mr Russell insisted that the SNP government would continue to pursue the manifesto objective of cutting class sizes to 18 or fewer in P1 to P3.

The contrast between aim and actuality, he said, was driven by “very difficult financial circumstances.”

It remained open to individual councis to strive for the 18 target, deploying the “flexibility” inherent in the government’s revised approach.

Broadly, Mr Russell’s opponents will say to the electorate: “They promised. They failed.”

Broadly, SNP Ministers will say to the electorate: “We promised. We made real progress in difficult circumstances. We will make more progress.”

As ever, their pitch, your choice.

Primary one class size cap plans

From the BBC

Plans to bring in a legal limit of 25 pupils in primary one are expected to be announced later by the Scottish government.

The proposed cap is some way short of an SNP manifesto promise, which pledged classes in the first three years of primary would be capped at 18 pupils.

The proposed new limit would have clout as it would be set in law.

Previous plans to reduce class sizes have failed because schools could not legally say classes were full.

Families refused a place were often successful when they went to court to appeal against decision not to allow their child to attend on the basis of class sizes.

Under current rules each teacher can have up to 30 pupils in their class.

School closure plans ‘called in’

If anyone can tell us why the government couldn’t ‘call in’ the closure of the 22 schools last year, but can call in these closures, please let us know.

From the BBC

Plans by Scotland’s largest council to close three schools have been “called in” by the Scottish government.

Education Secretary Mike Russell made the decision after education inspectors voiced concerns over the moves by Glasgow City Council.

The proposed closures of Stonedyke Primary, St Joan of Arc School and St Aidan’s School have now been halted.

Glasgow City Council said the call in was a “political decision” taken for “bogus reasons”.

The authority has been asked to provide more information to allow ministers to make a final decision.

Stonedyke Primary teaches youngsters from the Drumchapel and Summerhill areas of the city.

Under the council’s plans, pupils would transfer to two other primary schools.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) said there were a “number of issues to be addressed by the council” before it would be clear that the move would have educational benefits.

St Joan of Arc and St Aidan’s schools cater for youngsters aged 11 to 18 with additional support needs, with both schools having a number of pupils with autism.

Under the plans, most of these students would go to a new school, with a few transferring to a small specialist unit in John Paul Academy in Glasgow.

An HMIE report said: “Given the relative lack of detail about proposed modifications, it is presently difficult to be sure that the council’s proposal will lead to improvements in the educational experience of, and outcomes for, young people who are currently in St Aidan’s and St Joan of Arc.”

Speaking about his decision to call in the closure plans, Mr Russell said: “I do not believe the educational benefits of the proposal are set out in sufficient detail, as HMIE make clear in their reports and I have therefore decided this proposal requires further scrutiny.

Minister ’embarrassed’

“In each of these three schools, education inspectors have raised concerns over Glasgow City Council’s plans. These concerns are focused on how the education of the pupils will be improved in their new schools.

“In their official report into the plans, the inspectors have called on Glasgow to provide more information. It is right and proper that we take the time to allow this information to be provided and considered before allowing the closure to go ahead.”

Councillor Jean McFadden, executive member for education at Glasgow City Council, said: “This is an entirely political decision which has been taken for entirely bogus reasons.

“The minister is desperately thrashing around looking for something to cover his understandable embarrassment about Crossroads Primary in Ayrshire.”

Councillor McFadden’s comments refer to the Scottish government’s decision not to call in the closure of Crossroads Primary by East Ayrshire Council.

The move was criticised by the Rural Schools Network who said the closure “flew in the face” of laws created to protect smaller schools.

Police probe former council leader Steven Purcell over £50k grant

From the Daily Record

DRUG shame council boss Steven Purcell is being probed over alleged corruption.

It has been claimed the former Glasgow Council leader used undue influence to help friend and fellow councillor Ruth Black win a £50,000 contract.

An elite team of detectives are now investigating the claims, which it is understood follow a confidential tip-off this week to opposition SNP councillors.

The development is the first confirmed police involvement in the Purcell affair since his dramatic fall from grace last month.

The 37-year-old political high-flier suffered a breakdown and details of his cocaine use emerged.

The Record understand a confidential source supplied the SNP with potentially incriminating information over the award of the running of the city’s publicly funded lesbian and gay drop-in centre.

The Nats tipped off police, who put their Major Crimes and Terrorism Investigation Unit on the case.

Officers are said to be examining claims about links between Purcell and Black, who friends say regularly socialised together.

Glasgow City Council chief executive George Black and the council’s legal chief Ian Drummond have been made aware of the claims and ordered their own probe.

Ruth Black, 45, who defected to Labour from Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity Party in 2007, is boss of a firm called The Castro Glasgow Ltd, who were competing to run the new lesbian and gay drop-in centre.

A new centre was needed because the old one, formerly headed by Ruth Black, crashed with debts of £300,000 in April 2009, six months after she quit as centre manager.

More at Daily Record

Cronyism – Follow up

Thanks go to Gerry Braiden at the Herald for taking the time sift through the bewilderingly complex details of these quangos.

As an exercise in Blairite civic reform the theory was simple: crack the city state of Glasgow and the rest would fall into line, domino style.

But rather than blaze the trail for Scotland, the creation of arm’s-length companies by the nation’s largest authority has raised more questions about accountability and transparency than provide solutions for weathering the economic crisis or, indeed, providing a model for 21st century public services.

Following revelations that former leader Steven Purcell, who resigned amid blackmail fears and admissions of alcohol and drug abuse, used his network of Aleos to buy the support of friends, colleagues and even some dissidents, it has now emerged that he and his councillor colleagues set their own salaries for sitting on their boards.

When setting up the Aleos, a group including elected members and department officials, would look at what councillors were receiving from sitting on outside bodies such as the SECC, health or fire boards and what the special responsibility allowances – since scrapped for being overused and untenable – were paying. From that they would arrive at a figure they believed best reflected the responsibilities being undertaken in the new Aleo. This would then be approved by the council’s head of finance.

More at heraldscotland

“The sheer weight of numbers means Labour always has the ultimate veto but there is a valid argument that all parties have been complicit.”

Brilliant! Absolutely magnificent!

Because all the parties are involved there’s less chance of it getting sorted, if at all. What a shower of ********!

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