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Blueprint for education consultation


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Have any of you seen the questionaire from the education dept re Blueprint for education?


The scottish parliment says that local authorities should "engage in open and genuine consultation" ...well the questions are skewed to the councils agenda ie closure of rural schools.


Most people know that polls and surveys will/can ask questions in such a way that you give the answer that is being looked for.


i don`t want to get into a discussion re school closures but would anyone care to comment on the consultation questions?

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How come as a parent and a registered voter I seem to be the only person who hasn't got one? I really want to know how they're going to make the current schools fit in with the new system, they've had nearly 10years warning and seemed to ignore it completely.

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Its a complete waste of time, money, paper and ink IMHO.


1) There is no "neutral" option for any of the questions, just agree, agree strongly, or disagree and disagree strongly.


2) The questions are so worded that whatever option you chose, you'd need to add qualifying notes in the comments section to make sure your answer is taken in the right context, as bairns, like folk, are all different and a "check box, one size fits all" does not, and will never work! Its about finding middle gorund where probably no-one is particularly happy, but neither is anyone just driven completely up the wall or totally frozen out.


Will the comments be read? Hopefully, yes. Will they be noted and considered? Perhaps, but probably not. Its all too easy to tally numbers/percentages from check boxes, its a whole other game noting down sundry different comments and moulding them in to an overall cohesive and accurate critique.


How many would want to add comments, but won't, as the form also asks for the person who's filling in's name, and fear their, perhaps very valid, comments could be taken out of context and/or misunderstood. Face to face you can make sure the other person fully understands where you're coming from, the written word is open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to apply to it. Some folk, when they must identify themselves, would rather say nothing, than say something that ends up being taken up differently to what they intended. Shouldn't something like this be done with some degree of anonymity? If forms are returned without a name, will they be discarded or counted?

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Guest ShetlandBlue

Completely agree that the questions are very loaded, and some actually ask for a yes/no response yet you still have to tick your standard box.


I will be completing the questions, although I sometimes wonder why bother, as these questionaires have to be returned by 19th December, yet the full report is to be issued in January.


Given the work that should be involved in going through and considering the views of the responses, and throwing in the fact that we have the christmas break coming up, something tells me this report is pretty much already complete and the views of parents/carers/anyone else will be side stepped.

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I feel passionately about the quality of Shetland's education. I feel that the questions chosen for this questionnaire do not reflect the concerns of teachers or parents, or the needs of pupils, but reflect the agenda of buget holders trying to make savings, and the belief of a few that bigger schools are best. The questions are biased, and the results open to misinterpretation.


E.g. respondents agreeing that "the number of transfers that a child has in their education should be as few as possible" might be hoping that their child could complete secondary 5 & 6 in their Junior High School, but this might be used by Hayfield House as an arguement for closing Junior Highs.


Very few parents / members of the public have experience of school roles under 20, but all are asked the question about making this the minimum. And there is no way of identifying those with experience of small school education. If, say, 100% of parents with children at small school were opposed to the proposal, but 80% of others were in favour, the result would be overwhelming support for closing these schools but this would not necessarily be based on educational benefits or otherwise.


The wording of the question about whether it is acceptable that composite classes continue is incredibly loaded. Again, the whole of Shetland is asked, not just those with experience of composite classes.


The question about head teachers teaching for a portion of the week doesn't detail the alternatives (e.g. shared headship) that might be less acceptable than the current situation. Respondents might imagine that extra supply to allow head teachers of small schools more time for management duties is on offer.


The question about secondary school education subject choice also doesn't spell out the options, e.g. are they proposing to make more chioces available in smaller schools, or to close smaller schools?


If the education department are serious about consultation they need to listen to what people are saying about this questionnaire, withdraw it, and rewrite it in conjunction with teachers and parent councils to reflect current issues. As the questionnaire stands it does not represent honest consultation, and cannot aid councillors forming education policy.

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This 'consultation' is in my opinion just a tick box exercise.


Yes public consultation has been conducted but it is a very flawed consultation. So many leading questions, who exactly compiled this survey?


Is it objective? Will it lead to useful responses? I personally think not.


Therefore what was the point of it, other than to compile with someones own agenda or to simply tick a box to say it was done!



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I do believe that there is the opportunity to go to your local school meeting and voice your concerns. I do hope that those of you complaining about the quality of the questionnaire have done/are going to attend the meeting.

Unfortunately I forgot the date, not that I'd have been able to afford the taxi fares, plus I would have been attending a meeting I actually have no clue about because still haven't seen this Blue Print.

What I want them to tell me is that I don't have to worry about finding my child a fee paying school to get a qualification that's worth the paper it's written on.

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yes i will be attending meeting,especially as the questionnaire is so biased.


I spoke to someone who had a preschool child,we went through the questions.


Question 1,"curriculum for excellence recommends that pre-school settings and primary schools should be located as near each other as possible to make the change easier for children.


she "strongly agreed". when i pointed out if her child went to the local nursery the questioned indicated that it would be best for her child to stay in that school ie not the village one...she "strongly disagreed"


Q2. "The number of transfers that a child has in the course of their education should be kept as few as possible.

She "strongly agreed"


(actually,as most people have said,who is likely to say the opposite "no i want my child to have numerous transfers...")


When i pointed out that would entail the same scenario as above...she "strongly disagreed"


Q4. "A minimum pupil roll of 20 allows for the most effective educational and service delivery"


She "agreed",until i pointed out that would mean our village school would be considered "ineffective"....despite their excellent teaching being recently selected to be presented at a Her Majesties inspectorate conference....


( I did wonder at the time why there was no publicity about this from the education dept ...oh i think i have twigged)


In brackets they add this will not include Fair Isle,Skerries and papa stour,now either those communities are receiving "ineffective " education (i do not believe this for one moment)or there is something mystical about low population areas that are reached by boat as opposed to low population areas that are driven to.


I could go on, question by question,but my main point is that this is not a consultation it is a farce.Some people will take the questions at face value,not seeing the underlying agenda.


Still when they do try to close our local schools,this dire lack of consultation will go in our favour when we appeal to the scottish exec...and i have been reading up on the grounds for appeal ...including distance travelled.


There also seems to be,by my swift scanning of docs on scottish exec site, a presumption against the closure of rural schools.


In the same guidance on schools closures i found " the school at the heart of the community-meeting the needs of the community"


So yes,you can know see where my "bias" is re school closures,but I still think the questionaire is a poor piece of work by someone.

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I do believe that there is the opportunity to go to your local school meeting and voice your concerns. I do hope that those of you complaining about the quality of the questionnaire have done/are going to attend the meeting.


Not everyone has the option to attend public meetings due to personal etc circumstances.


In any case, should there not have been a bit more joined up thinking here, why have both questionaires and meetings, surely one or the other initially would have sufficed. Seems to me its a bit of a hash up that can be used as an excuse to let the "eryse fall atween two stools" as far as any and all objections are concerned. How better to "bury" something that is brought up strongly at meetings than by countering it with "well, that's not borne out in the questionaire replies", and vice versa.


Two comments on some of the questions mentioned by righter but from a different perspective. "The number of transfers that a child has in the course of their education should be kept as few as possible." - There is no definitive answer, some kids flourish with continuity, others get bored very quickly and moving schools every few years gives them the sense of moving ahead and discovering new things, which stops disinterest, boredom and apathy towards their education. "A minimum pupil roll of 20 allows for the most effective educational and service delivery" - Depends on how that 20 minimum are served by staff, one teacher for 20 5-12 year olds is not very ideal at all, been there, done that. You have kids on at least seven different levels of education, it takes time and work to get everyone set up for every lesson, and it often leaves kids waiting to be given instructions for unacceptable lengths of time. If you hire 2, 3, whatever to serve your 20 minimum, thats 10 or 7 etc per teacher at any one time, does this not then equal a school with a roll of 10, 7 etc and immediately nullify the reasoning that is used to support the minimum 20 number? Transporting very young kids 10, 15 or more miles morning and night, in darkness is winter, to achieve the numbers does not make for happy or attentive kids. either.


I have no faith in an overall long term blueprint for Shetland Education at the level the council seem to want to achieve, a very loose set of guidelines is as good as they're going to get and still be workable. Too much of Shetland due to its geography etc has unique needs for any sort of "one size" fits all solution to be put in to place and strictly adhered to.


Each situation needs to be looked at individually on their own merits as the need arises, and decisions made dispassionately entirely on the grounds of the facts as they stand combined with forecasts and aspirations, not simply to conform to some "number" picked out of the sky by some overpaid so-called "expert".

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