Thursday, August 23, 2007

Full Council Meeting

August Full Council Meeting starts in a few hours - agenda here.

Reckon it could be a very long meeting indeed ... not just due to the schools issues, but also significant reports on sports facilities, general finance and decision-making structures to mention but the obvious.

... this could well be the last post of the day :-(

8 comments:

David Sterratt said...

So far in the debate, I've haven't heard the long-term economic arguments against the current plans for school rationalisation in Edinburgh.

While school rolls are falling now, the figures in the Director of Education's report show that primary school rolls are set to start rising again in 2010, and by 2024 are expected to be around 2,000-2,500 up on the current roll.

Similarly, the secondary school rolls are expected to start to rising in 2016.

As immigration has increased, estimates of Scotland's future population have been increasing over the past few years (see Figure 6 of the latest population projections of the General Register Office for Scotland). In the possible "High migration" (HM) scenarios, shown in Figure 10 the population will increase even more.

Also, the effect of smaller class sizes does not appear to have been considered in the report.

The report seems to focus on having enough schools for when numbers will be at their lowest, in a few year's time, not for when they have grown again. If we close many schools now, we may have to open or extend schools in 10 year's time.

The report mentions savings in the next few years if schools are closed, but does not contain estimates of the long-term costs of extending or rebuilding schools.

The report also highlights the energy savings achieved by closing schools, but does not include an estimate of how much extra carbon dioxide will be emitted as a result of an increased number of school runs.

I think we need a new, more rational, report that considers the long-term economic and environmental costs and benefits of school closures and changes of class sizes and possible increased migration. Until we have this report, the current process should stop.

Anonymous said...

The City Chambers today

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11998765@N07/1215680384/in/pool-433385@N25/

Anonymous said...

What's Labour's ACTUAL proposal for school closures?

OR (better) ways of keeping most of them open and better utilised.

Scotsman comments

Andrew said...

David

Many thanks for the comment. I do agree that there are some serious flaws in the arguments we've been presented with.

My own reading of the GROS projections seems to indicate an increase of some 2,400 children (in the 0-15 year old age bracket) by 2024, see the following table:

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files/04pop-proj-scottishareas-table2.pdf

I thus tend to agree that planning for 2014 may be all-well-and-good, but if the school-aged population is set to rise (pretty significantly) again by 2024, then it could actually be completley counter-productive in the longer term to close some 22 educational establishments now.

Andrew

Andrew said...

Anonymous (1)

Thanks for providing that link - I'll put an entry up in a minute so others may see the pictures ... hope that's okay!

Andrew

Andrew said...

Anonymous (2)

Thanks for the comments (and link).

I have actually posted fairly extensively on all of this ... probably the best entry to have a look at is here:

http://andrewburns.blogspot.com/2007/08/26-educational-establishments-in-8.html

... please do have a look at the various links from that page.

In essence, I would have re-started the Working Group (as outlined in the link above) and taken several months, if not longer, to build a professional and cross-Party (as far as feasible!) concensus on an approach to be taken before launching any proposals.

I'm not aginst the 'principle' of rationalising the school estate, as I outlined here:

http://andrewburns.blogspot.com/2007/08/third-round-programme-of-school.html

... but this current set of proposals just don't stack up and I do feel their launch into the public domain has been very badly handled.

Andrew

David Sterratt said...

Hello Andrew,

The figures in the GROS report are for different age ranges than those produced by the council, so it's not possible to compare the figure of 2,5000 0-15 years olds with 2,000 more children in primary schools (which came from the council report) directly.

I've thought a bit more about the effect of reducing the maximum size of P1-P3 class sizes to 18. According to the spreadsheet I've done, depending on the number of teaching areas a school has, there is a 10%-40% reduction in capacity - the average is around 25%.

If this reduced capacity was applied to the schools today, they would be 95% full on average.

I've not assumed classroom-sharing as is happening in schools like Scienes, but I suspect that even with that, the reduction in capacity will be about 15% or so - certainly no less than 10%.

David.

Andrew said...

David

Thanks for the further comment.

If you want, please don't hesitate to send me any 'information/data' directly:

andrew.burns@edinburgh.gov.uk
or
andrewdburns@btinternet.com

- don't miss out the 'd' in the middle if you use the private address!

Andrew