Friday, 23 June 2017

Fake consultations and fixed agendas

Speaking of Nicola Sturgeon`s answers to the crisis in Scottish education - each and every answer being a failed Tory policy - Kezia Dugdale says, "She has even flirted with opt out schools."

Well actually the Scottish government is still flirting with opt out schools with governance arrangements by head teachers as a first step.

Kezia Dugdale goes on to say: "Doesn`t this prove First Minister that if you vote SNP you get Tory?"

At this point the building erupts. It`s true, and Kezia should know since she represents the party who invented that scam.


Brian Wilson in the Scotsman draws attention to the fact that the Scottish Government is big on consultations but not so big on listening to consultees. This is most apparent after the recent consultation about governance of Scotland`s schools.

"While headlines focused on John Swinney’s prescription for the problems giving more power to head teachers almost no attention has been paid to the conclusions of the consultation process, published on the same day as Swinney’s statement in Holyrood. This is unfortunate since the contrast is dramatic."

"Reading the Scottish Government’s own Analysis of the Consultation Responses, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that Swinney has rejected every area of consensus to follow his own dubious path."

"More than 350 organisations and 700 individuals took the trouble to make submissions. Hundreds more attended meetings. Their conclusions appear to have been remarkably uniform remember this is the Scottish Government’s own summary of what they said. Fundamentally, it told Swinney there was `widespread support for the current governance system and an apprehension towards further change within the existing system there is ‘no need to fix something that is not broken’.` In case the point was missed, it stressed: `Current governance arrangements were not seen as a barrier for improvement and changing them should not be expected to address the deep-seated issues that get in the way of achieving excellence and equality for all`."

"That was not a cry of complacency but simply recognition that the whole discussion around improving performance and narrowing attainment gaps is based on the false premise that the primary issue to be addressed involves structures rather than other critical factors. Helpfully, the (Scottish Government’s own) Analysis of the Consultation Responses went on to define them. `Specifically,` it stated bluntly, `respondents thought that budget cuts and staffing issues were the two keys to barriers for improvement`."

"Which part of that does Swinney find difficulty in understanding? Or did he understand it all too well but felt, at a very personal level, he had no option other than to ignore it?"


Paul Holywood who comments reminds readers of the consultation about the Named Person legislation. This is not unrelated to the education debate since head teachers, as well as taking on new governance responsibilities, will also have Named Person duties.

"After the Supreme Court defeat, Mr Swinney pledged a three-month period of `intense engagement` including parents and those with 'concerns' in a consultation process designed to come up with alternative proposals which might meet the approval of the court. But he ruled out meeting with NO2NP, whose members warned more than two years ago of the problems with the scheme, and brought the legal action which resulted in the Named Person law being struck down. It has now emerged that Mr Swinney's office has failed to properly respond to parents, including some of his own constituents, seeking to become involved in the consultation process."

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