Does SNP Government deserve full marks for its educational attainment fund?

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Douglas Turner (Letters, December 9) asks why I do not recognise that the SNP have educational initiatives other than the flawed policy on testing. I assume the £100 million he mentions is a reference to the so-called Attainment Scotland Fund.

This fund is being spread over four years, meaning that an “additional” £25m on average will be allocated to local authorities each year. But does £25m not pale into insignificance when compared with the £350m Mr Swinney’s budget is to cut from the grant to local authorities in the next year?

I am aware that the proceeds of the attainment fund are targeted and weighted towards those authorities perceived to be in greater need.

Nevertheless, in general it is evident that all that the SNP’s Attainment Fund will offer to education in 2016 will be to return to local authorities £25m of the £350m they plan to take from them and compel them to use it on the SNP’s educational “strategy”.

It certainly doesn’t look as if the SNP is stronger for education.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Your regular pro-SNP lobbyist Douglas Turner has got it wrong as usual. The SNP may now be putting £100m into attempting to close the “attainment gap” but this is eight years too late. They have sat on their hands since they took power.

The state of our education is not totally about schools in more deprived areas achieving less, it is about the fact that the government fosters this gap deliberately by their policy of inclusiveness.

I have a friend who teaches in a local primary school and a large proportion of their time is taken up dealing with children who should not be there. They need special help to bring them up to a position where they can take a place in mainstream education. This is largely due to the poor souls’ backgrounds – parents who do not understand or do not care about their children and their education – maybe because they were brought up that way themselves.

However, the damage is done to the rest of the class, who are held back due to this government’s policy. The result is the reduction in the teaching available to the other children in the class, who thus fall below where they should be, and have their abilities held to the lowest factor in the class. Many will never recover from this. Hence the attainment gap, due not to their environment, but to the SNP government forcing the class to advance at the pace of the slowest.

Until this is changed, the gaps will persist.

Blame can also be placed at the door of the local authorities who allow this policy to be accepted. In West Linton the primary school, which should have had a high ranker being in a better area than some, was deemed one of the poorest attainers in Scotland by the inspectors – a position that the Borders Council (jointly run by SNP) allowed to exist for many years before they were forced to act. No one in the Council was ever taken to account for the damage this did to a generation of kids. Fortunately, matters are now improving.

So let the SNP stop blaming the areas for the education problems of our country and get a grip and face up to the fact that they have neglected our kids for years. Talk will not get matters anywhere, so get on with it now!

Ian Ross

Eden Lane, Edinburgh

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