Kids not Suits survey: should we merge Scottish education authorities?
The cuts ahead: how best to safeguard our children's education?
of survey complete.
The former chairman of the Accounts Commission (the spending watchdog) has called for education authorities to merge, so classrooms may be spared the worst of the cuts in public spending. Each Council spends 40% of its budget on education, so merging such departments with neighbouring Councils reduces duplication.
Many will consider it wrong that the public sector is being made to pay for the banker's mistakes, but Westminster is clear that massive public spending cuts will come.
The BBC Education Correspondent on the TV piece kept asking the same question: can the scottish population of 5 million support 32 Local Education Authorities (LEAs)?
Pros and Cons
Pros 1. Kids not suits has used Scottish Government data to calculate that if the merger meant going back to LEAs based on the old regional councils, ie pre-1996, it would save Scotland £500M pa. (-a reduction from the current 32 LEAs to 9 regions and 3 island areas.)
Combining East, West, Midlothian and Edinburgh Council LEAs back to one (as was pre-1996 the old Lothian Regional Council) would save at least £81M pa.
(data source Tables 5.1 and 5.2 at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/05/11134917/0)
2. Grant recipients running a voluntary organisation that was region-wide in service delivery will find it far simpler dealing with one LEA than with several.
3. A supply teacher would only have to register with one LEA rather than several, making it easier to work in schools often just a few miles apart, but in different authorities.
Cons 1. There will be some reduction in voters' direct power over their LEA. The level of reduction will depend on how many councillors control any merged body.
2. There will be redundancies- but if there are teachers in the back office, some of them could be transferred into vacant jobs in schools, since classroms would be protected from cuts. NB Whatever way the cuts are handled next year, there are going to be redundancies. For education, the debate will be about whether we want to cut classroom provision, or merge functions with other Councils.