SBC working group delay Catholic school review announcement

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THE findings of a review into Roman Catholic education will not be revealed until next year.

The Roman Catholic Education Strategic Review Group was due to discuss its consultation with the education committee this week. But group chair and executive member for education, councillor Sandy Aitchison, told the committee: “For various reasons the Catholic school consultation has been delayed until January 2013.

“It was felt if we were to do it properly, we had to take additional time to make our decision.

“It is still within the required timeframe for recommendations and having new teachers in place for 2013.”

The group has been considering two options since September as it attempts to improve head teacher recruitment and concerns over performance.

The first option would see a single head teacher for all four RC schools in the Borders or reverting to shared headships, with St Margaret’s in Galashiels and Halyrude in Peebles linked together with a similar arrangement at St Margaret’s in Hawick and St Joseph’s in Selkirk.

Meanwhile, Scottish Borders Council’s director of education Glenn Rodger told the same meeting that the profession will be forced into significant changes if central funding continues to be cutback.

Mr Rodger said: “There is no escaping the fact that resources is a key element of how we move forward.

“There is significant reduction in public spending and the expert view is that resources are going to be reduced in the future.

“My own view is that the model of delivery at the moment, if we see a significant proportion of our spending lost, is not deliverable.”

A similar approach to Finland’s highly-respected system may be considered, with Mr Rodger, co-chair of Teaching Scotland’s Future National Partnership Group, impressed during a recent visit to the Scandinavian country.

He added: “Finland has the most successful education system in Europe, yet has one of the shortest school days, starting at 10am.

“The model of delivery (in Scotland) has not fundamentally changed in a couple of 100 years.

“The children come into school in the morning, have lunch and then have classes in the afternoon.

“We have got to be prepared for fairly radically different models across primary and secondary school education.”

Mr Rodger outlined a series of issues currently affecting his department and teachers across the region.

They included Curriculum for Excellence, proposals to increase modern language teaching, a Scottish Government bill to increase pre-school children’s learning time to a minimum of 600 hours and how the local authority would deliver new schools in the future.

He added: “I speak to colleagues at other local authorities and staff in schools, and there has never been a time where we have had so much change happening at the same time.

“There are significant pressures on resources to deliver the changes. It makes it seem like a volatile time in education development.”

The education committee backed consultations looking at moving Kelso High School to a new site and transferring Duns Primary and a Berwickshire special education unit into the former Berwickshire High building.

The Kelso High project was backed by nearly £10million from Scottish Futures Trust in September, with SBC having previously used the controversial Private Public Partnership (PPP) system to build the new Earlston, Berwickshire and Eyemouth high schools.

Mr Rodger said: “Scottish Futures Trust is a different partnership model with the Scottish Government in terms of funding and delivery of projects.

“There is lots to be learnt from the PPP delivery in terms of the Scottish Futures Trust.”