Saturday, 28 November 2009


I always thought the so-called Concordat was a bad deal for local councils, with the stress well-and-truly on the first syllable. The real spelling should be con-cordat.

The underlying logic was: The SNP will promise something, the councils will deliver it. In return "ring fencing" of funds will be abolished, allowing councils to have more freedom to spend the money as they wish. There was also to be a "better relationship" between councils and the Scottish Executive

To me, the reality was always: the SNP will promise all sorts of stuff and if it is not delivered, they will point to the con-cordat and conveniently lay-off the blame on the councils.

As for ring fencing: it is obviously good from the point of view of councils that they can spend money as they wish. But this ignores the fact that "ring fencing" was put there for a reason: to deliver government priorities and to ensure the money was spent in the target areas.

Education was previously a key "ring fenced" government priority and the largest area of spending, and removal of "ring fencing" always carried the risk that the money would be spent somewhere else....

The councils, having control of funding and having the best local perspective, have decided not to deliver class sizes of 18 in P1 - P3 as the SNP wished. There are also 1350 fewer teachers than a year ago.

The matter has come to a head with the SNP administration threatening to remove responsibility for schools from local councils.

There are very good reasons for the class size situation, key amongst them being the impracticality of the policy: it will not work without years of planning and delivery and billions of pounds invested. It never was a workable policy.

Anyway, now the SNP is blaming the councils for the non-delivery of their Education policies and threatening to destroy the con-cordat and bring Education under the control of Holyrood.

It's a mess. What's more, it's a predictable mess and it shows that the SNP was never serious or honest about the con-cordat. The con-cordat was always a vehcle to distance themselves from policy failure, and the so-called "bettier relationship" with local councils was only ever a one-sided perspective.

Those who really believed in the con-cordat have been well and truly conned.

Meanwhile there are 1350 fewer teachers in Scotland than there were a year ago and the class size reduction remains a pipe-dream.

So much for the "give us a chance and we'll show what we can do" pleas of SNP "government". So much for a "beter relationship" between Holyrood and local councils. So much for the con-cordat.

No comments:

Post a Comment