Education grouping must be properly funded

AN “AMBITIOUS” educational collaborative of northern local authorities, including the SIC, must be properly funded if it is to fulfil its broad scope of improvements.

The council’s education and families committee heard that there were question marks over the resourcing of the Northern Alliance, formed by eight local authorities, including the three islands councils.

The alliance’s principle aims outlined in a draft plan are: improvements in literacy and numeracy; closing the outcome gap between the least and most privileged children; improvement in young people’s health and wellbeing and an improvement in employability skills.

Committee chairman George Smith hailed the draft as “a very ambitious plan” that was greater in content and breadth than those of other collaboratives within Scotland.

He said that there was a “real commitment” among staff to make the plan a reality but that pressure would have to be applied to the Scottish Government to secure future funding for the initiative.

With the Northern Alliance covering 58 per cent of Scotland’s landmass, a case could be made for transport and rural location as indicators for funding the attainment gap.

Meanwhile Scottish Youth Parliamentarians Sonny Thomason and newly elected Dylan Morrish gave an impressive multi-media presentation on the Year of Young People and called on people and groups to keep coming forward with ideas to add to an already busy programme of planned events.

Thomason asked the committee what advice it could give to young people?

Displaying statesmanlike dexterity political leader Steven Coutts replied that it was not for the council to tell or advise young people, but rather for young people to come forward and tell the council what they want.