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Argyll & Bute 2010
The Scottish Rural Schools Network (SRSN) welcomes today’s publication of the report of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education.
SRSN supports many of the report’s recommendations, especially those relating to the improvement in the quality and transparency of information provision during and after consultations. These issues were the reason for the establishment of the Commission in 2011, and SRSN urges the Scottish Government to implement the recommended changes to the Statutory Guidance as rapidly as possible. Furthermore SRSN believes that there needs to be a more rigorous and transparent approach to dealing with such disputes in the ministerial call-in process.
SRSN also welcomes the recognition by the Commission that the smallest schools can, and frequently do, achieve the highest standards of performance and do not suffer from any general difficulty in delivering Curriculum for Excellence.
SRSN is particularly pleased to note the Commission’s critical comments about the inappropriate use of capacity and occupancy measurements in assessing the viability of rural schools and its recommendation that capacity measurement is standardised.
SRSN is very pleased that, for the first time, the Commission’s inquiry into the financial aspects of school closures has produced a clear explanation of the Revenue Support Grant implications, in the form of the paper published by the Scottish Government, COSLA and SRSN. Given the repeated confusion in these matters in closure proposals across Scotland, this is a significant achievement of the Commission.
SRSN is concerned that the recommendation that the current legislative requirement to establish educational benefit be diluted, is a retrograde step given Scotland’s long established principle that changes in education provision should be made for the improvement of education. SRSN does not understand the argument that giving primacy to educational benefit somehow prevents local authorities from providing the fullest financial and other information about their proposals.
It seems likely that with the end of the moratorium, there will now be a considerable number of school closure proposals coming forward in the next few months. In the light of this SRSN believes that it is essential that the Scottish Government now moves quickly to ensure that these consultations are conducted in a manner consistent with the Commission’s recommendations concerning openness, accuracy and transparency.
Scottish Rural Schools Network
19 April 2013
This statement can be downloaded here.