Friday, 15 August 2014

67 Days To Go


The Scottish Education system is admired worldwide and has been for many years.  It is a completely different from rUK in terms of how the school year is broken down, what is taught, age of entry into formal education, the exams taken and when they are taken, even degree courses at university are different as an honours degree takes 4 years rather than 3. Control over our education has been fully devolved to Holyrood.
(From Wikipedia) In 2014, research by the Office for National Statistics found that Scotland was the most highly educated country in Europe and among the most well-educated in the world in terms of tertiary education attainment, above countries like Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg, with roughly 40% of Scots aged 16-64 educated to NVQ Level 4 and above.

So what difference does independence make to education then?
The Scottish Government's plans are:

  • A transformation in childcare provision for every child between age one and school age. By the end of the first independent Scottish Parliament all three and four years olds, and vulnerable two years olds, will be entitled to childcare equivalent to the time spent at primary school
  • With independence benefits, taxes and employment services will work with the education system in raising attainment amongst our most disadvantaged young people
  • Access to higher education will be based on ability, not wealth; this Government will protect free tuition fees for Scottish students and continue to provide appropriate support for living costs
  • This Government will provide levels of public investment in university research that will enable our researchers and universities to remain internationally competitive
  • Education and employment rights could be made part of the written constitution of an independent Scotland, including a youth guarantee to employment, education or training
The Scottish Government went on to explain the correlation between poverty and reduced learning capacity.  Therefore, by having autonomy over our financial matters, we are better able to invest in eradicating poverty and helping children to achieve their potential through quality education, which inturn leads to employment.
We have 5 universities that are ranked in the top 200 in the world (Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee), which, per head of population, is more than any other country.  The research facilities and quality of research carried out in Scotland, is again renowned throughout the world.  With independence, continued investment and growth of the research and development is crucial to maintaining economic stability.
With regards, moving into employment, the Scottish Government has reported :
The education initiatives for those aged over 16 are complemented by the training opportunities provided through Skills Development Scotland, including in excess of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship places in 2012/13.  To further boost the opportunities for young people seeking to enter the labour market, Scotland is the only European country with a dedicated Youth Employment Minister, who is responsible for a range of initiatives to maximize the chances of Scotland's young people.
Employment services and training for employability will be significantly improved by independence.  At the moment, the financial benefits of successful employment initiatives by the Scottish Government - such as Modern Apprenticeships, Higher and Further Education funding and other training programmes - go to the Westminster Government in the form of reduced welfare payments and increased tax revenues.  With independence we will retain these benefits in Scotlanf and can re-invest them in our people by funding more employment programmes.
(above info taken from here)

The Scottish Green's view of education post independence is from a different stand point from the current SNP Government. Its a stance that resonates more with me personally. I have not summarised their view, just quoted it directly from their website :
Learning is for life, not just for work.
Education can transform lives and communities, but current policy is too focussed on making young people ‘job-ready’, as though our economic lives are everything. Greens will put more emphasis on nurturing people’s talents and encouraging creative, analytical thinking, investing in an education system that is accessible to all, celebrates diversity and nurtures talent. Scotland’s school curriculum is still too reliant on exam success as the only suitable measure of a child’s future potential. Many of our children feel excluded, and others are simply bored, by a system which values memorising facts over aptitudes such as problem solving, team working and interpersonal social skills. We want to see a society which respects children and aims to give them the freedom to express themselves. Education should not only be about teaching children how to pass exams, it should support young people to become well-rounded citizens. The Greens would require schools to put in place activities to help children learn how to resolve conflicts non-violently. Peace Initiatives encourage members of the community, particularly in schools, to recognise that encountering conflict is a normal part of human life and to support the resolution of conflict through positive, non-violent means. We would like to see initiatives like this across Scotland. Greening education is not just about the curriculum, but also about where teaching takes place and how schools function. Outdoor education develops skills and qualities such as risk assessment, working with others, self-confidence, empathy with Scotland’s countryside, co-ordination and practical skills. The reduction in opportunities to experience outdoor education is unacceptable. - See more at:

But what if the nation votes against independence? What will education look like then?
It would appear that nothing would change with regards to schooling (primary / secondary). Continue as we are under devolved powers, but it is worth remembering again, that devolved powers are not necessarily permanent powers.  The concern being voiced by Better Together, is the level of funding for research and development from the Research Council UK that would be no longer available to Scottish Universities.  Yes Scotland have refuted this, arguing that by not sharing research cross borders goes against the grain of commitment to share knowledge between other universities.
Former Prime Minister, Gordon brown recently commented upon the issue of education, when he announced that Scottish education should come under the UK control. (mind what I said about permanence of devolved powers...). The link for the article reporting Gordon's recommendation is here.
If we were to follows Gordon's opinion,  and relinquish control of our education system to Westminster and the legacy of Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education is now Nicky Morgan after the recent cabinet shuffle), what would that mean for our education? So far it has meant that 40% of newly qualified teachers, who have just spent 4 years getting their teaching qualification are leaving the profession withing the first 5 years. Its a system that puts the results of league tables and constant tests and exams at the top of the priority list and the needs of the children at the bottom.
A former teacher, Liz Palmer, wrote this for the Guardian earlier this month, and concluded that the state of the UK education system was thus :
"We now have a generation of pupils who have been trained that their individual opinions and skills are invalid, that reading is only worthwhile if the text was written by a white, British man; we have a generation of disaffected teachers, who are woeful about the notion of change (even if it's sometimes for the better); and a generation of school leaders that has been told that managing teachers must involve distrusting them. Politicians may be transient, but attitudes are not. The rot has set in, its effects will be felt for years"

No thanks, Gordon Brown, we'll stick with our own system, thanks all the same.

For the future of our children and theirs, the only way is YES.



34 Days To Go

Project Fear

The self titled nick-name for Better Together or No Thanks, or what ever they choose to call themselves in the last dash before 18th September, could not be more accurate.
Project Fear says it all.  Loud and clear. And I tell you right now, I am feart. Feart they win. Like, proper feart, they win!
Why? Here's why (in no particular order) :

1. I'm feart that by choosing to Vote No, we are authorising the Uk government to renew Trident, keep their nuclear arsenal on our shores, wasting billions of pounds on said weapons that we will NEVER use, instead of using the money for health or education or welfare.
2. I'm feart that by voting NO we give away our bargaining chip with the UK - we would basically be handing over our country to Westminster and tell them to just do as they please.
3. I'm feart that Devo-Max is just an urban legend.  All 3 main parties voted against it going on the ballot in the first place, but now they're all like, we'll give you more powers.  The only power I want right now is one of premonition!
4. I'm feart that by voting No, the powers that are already devolved are withdrawn.  Just because they are devolved, this does not mean they are permanently ours - the powers surrounding energy, fracking in particular have already been taken back - is this just the start? Remember, devolution is a gift from Westminster and the monarch.
5. I'm feart that by choosing to vote No, the proposals for recalculation of the Barnett formula and the reduction of the block grant from Westminster come to fruition, meaning a significant decrease in money coming to Scotland that we use for essential services like the NHS.
6. I'm feart that my fellow countrymen/women are swallowing the poisonous tripe being fed to them by Project Fear, the Westminster government and the mainstream media.
7. I'm feart that by voting No we are selling off our NHS and that in times of need in the future, I or my family wont be able to afford medical bills - how much will cancer treatment cost? maternity costs, a hip replacement, etc
8.  I'm feart that by voting No, that my wages will never be a living wage inline with inflation, and the number of people now regarded as the 'working poor' becomes the norm.
9.  I'm feart that by voting NO, food banks become the norm, as already voiced by Better Together Aberdeenshire
10.  I'm feart that by voting NO, we will be leaving the EU, without any thought for what we want.  The general consensus in Scotland, is that we want to stay in Europe. For all its bureaucracy and red tape, it has actually done so much for human rights and equality.  The proposed referendum will be held, but the Scottish vote is not enough to sway it in any direction.
11. I'm feart that by voting NO, we are voting for another term of Tory government come 2016, with a very realistic possibility of another coalition, but with UKIP this time.  UKIP who have no time for human rights other than their own. Who have no interest in the Scottish Parliament or N.Irish or Welsh Assemblies, wishing instead to abolish the 3 of them.
12. I'm feart that by voting No, we have not learned the lessons from the past, and Maggie's ghost will come back to haunt us and taunt us for our stupidity.
13.  I'm feart that by voting No, my pension will be worthless by the time I am due to retire, when I am around 69, possibly older.
14. I'm feart that by voting No, I wont be able to enjoy my senior years as without a liveable pension, how will I be able to afford my medical bills?
15. I'm feart that  by voting No, we are allowing the continued increase of  xenophobia being spread through the isles and causing further rifts, race hate crimes and divisions within communities, rather than embracing diversity.
16. I'm feart that by voting No, we are voting against democracy, against a more fair and just society and against equality.
17. I 'm feart that by voting No, we are telling not just Westminster, but the world, that we are too wee, too poor, too stupid to actually take control and responsibility for ourselves. That we are proud to be ruled and governed by a master in a different country.
18. I'm feart that by voting No, all the new oil that has been discovered in the north sea will be squandered once again, and that the full scale of the theft will not be disclosed until its too late - AGAIN!
19. I'm feart that by voting No, there will be no positive move towards to renewable green energy, and instead fracking will be given the green light and the central belt of Scotland (which has been primed for fracking) is destroyed, taking with it our health.
20. I'm feart that by voting No, we are heading for more wars, rather than peace.  The UK just cant resist going to war.  As for peace, just take a look at their stance on the situation in Gaza.
21.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are deciding that only the wealthy children in our society will be attending university.  Now, uni isn't for everyone, but I would at least like my son to have the choice for himself if that is the route he wishes to take. With our diminished pocketmoney, we won't be able to continue free university education.
22. I'm feart that by voting No, we are stopping ourselves from actually trying to do any better, be any better than we are just now. Not giving Scotland the chance to properly flourish and achieve what she/we are capable of.  The Common Weal wont get a look in, not while we have Westminster overlording.
23. I'm feart that by voting No, that we are saying, austerity is acceptable, penalising the most vulnerable is acceptable, that protecting the bankers and elite, celebratory tax avoiders etc are all perfectly acceptable, that protecting and not investigating/losing evidence for insider gross crimes against children is all above board and perfectly appropriate.
24.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are telling the mainstream media that we are perfectly happy to pay our tv licence and buy newspapers that are completely biased against the country they are broadcasting or reporting to, supporting instead the propaganda machine of Westminster.
25. I'm feart that by voting No, we are signing off on the provision that our achievement will always be British, but our failures will always be Scottish.
26.  I'm feart that by voting No, we will always be a shortbread tin away from dignity and will remain to be patronised by men in skirts and see-you-jimmy bunnets
27. I'm feart that by voting No, we are letting down not only ourselves, but the next and all future generations coming up behind us. I dread to think what sort of state Scotlandshire will be in by then.
28.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are raising another generation of adults who are behaving like children, unable to make a decision for themselves, and to obediently do as they are told, no questions asked. Yes Westminster, No Westminter, 3 bags full Westminster, my master.
29.  I'm feart that by voting No, some people have just been bone idle, lazy, apathetic, blind no brain thickos (trying really hard not to swear here) andhave just voted No, with no thought or consideration  for what they are actually voting for, and effectively send us all down the river for a union jack and an 'easy life'
30. I'm feart that by voting No, Scotland will continue to subsidise the rUK (HS2, House of Lords, etc) without recognition, but instead continue to be mistakenly called the subsidy junkie - a view that has been shared to the rUK.
31. I'm feart that by voting No, on the 19th September we will be expected to now toe the Westminster line and to 'know our place'. A place that will be reiterated to us at every opportunity.

So aye, Project Fear has put the fear into me.
Only one way to banish this nightmare, is to wake up and vote YES!