Learning - Glasgow

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FundIng

A key reason why many young people in Glasgow have limited access to many careers, struggle with attainment and live in fragmented communities, is the manner in which the services designed to resolve their situation are focused on servicing the services - and heavily incentivised to follow 'business' and/ or contractor priorities, despite being publicly funded.

“The Treasury figures show the estimated unitary charges each year for each PFI project operational in the UK as of March last year. Major projects in Scotland include the construction of new schools in Glasgow, which were operational by 2001. The construction cost was £225 million, but by the time the last repayment is made in 2030 the total unitary charges will add up to around £1.5bn.” - Source

The Debt

After paying for PFI payments; payments on other borrowing; paying exorbitant supply contracts; covering the costs of maintaining vast crumbling estates; paying twice for private and public corporate structures . . . is it surprising to find support for learning falters; key posts are frozen; services are targeted to those who can pay/ access them; and more cuts kicking in.

Consequently, the last thing anyone needs is more of the years of mismanagement resulting in 34% of Glasgow’s children being stuck in child poverty over Christmas 2016.

It follows from there that a re-mortgaging PFI 2 really is not much of an option; particularly when some of the key scientifically proven approaches to developing attainment and creativity in other countries have been discarded or overlooked in recent years. Inevitably, the there has to be real concern about the money spent, the money owed and the damage done along the way.

Attainment - The Damage Done

Some of the direct and damaging impacts Scottish Labour's decades of control over Glasgow City Council have had on attainment are not hard to identify:

•    Widespread and widening economic distress.
•    Inexplicable and unexplained contract prices.
•    The removal of all Early Years teachers and headteachers.
•    Extraordinary costs for technology services and books.
•    The neglect of work to increase parental engagement.
•    Libraries made no measurable impact on attainment.
•    Large clusters of long-established low attainment. 
•    The continued absence of digital maker skill sets.

As recently as 2014 we find the EIS commenting on Glasgow’s very damaging decision to go to court for the right to get rid of all of Glasgow’s Early Years Teachers and Head Teachers.

“The EIS condemned the decision of Glasgow Council to remove teachers from its nursery establishments, with damaging consequences for the education of children in the city's nurseries. . .
Commenting on the ruling today, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, 
"The EIS continues to believe that qualified nursery teachers are an essential part of quality education provision in nursery schools, as indeed does the Scottish Government. . .
Glasgow's shameful lead in putting financial savings ahead of the educational needs of young children in nursery schools and classes.”
All the available research evidence highlights that, where teachers are involved in nursery education, the quality of education provision is at its highest.” - EIS website and reported in the Glasgow Herald.

Even more recently we’ve seen the Scottish Labour Party, those largely responsible for these absurd PFI costs and debts, attacking the new Attainment Fund, which has already put more teachers into schools and makes it clear to those paying more tax where their money is being spent.

Attainment - Fortunately

About the only plus side in this is that needing to start from base camp with few resources does at least encourage innovation and it’s not hard to identify the gaps we need to fill:

•    Current awareness services to support staff and pupils.
•    Delivering literacy directly into homes.
•    Early engagement with science and technology.
•    Early Years Teachers and Head Teachers.
•    Flexible working and working life balance schemes.
•    Learning through social media.
•    Maker learning environments.
•    Parental engagement in early learning.
•    Visual literacy.