Another year and another cringing photo opportunity for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, this time extolling her government’s free school meals policy for P1-P3 pupils while the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) heavily criticised her government for abandoning its commitment to maintain teacher numbers and lower class sizes.
In light of the two articles, is it the best use of scarce resources to give children of doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc free school meals? I would suggest not.
If the SNP government was genuinely concerned about targeting our most needy children, why did it not widen the criteria for free meals, therefore allowing more children to access them to P7 and beyond? Possibly because the SNP is not about fairness or equality but is motivated by populous policies and vain glory projects.
It has consistently slashed local authority budgets so it can pursue what it perceives to be vote-winning policies.
It will of course blame Westminster when it is largely its own spending priorities that are undermining the educational opportunities of our children, especially those in less well-off areas.
This is the government that has reduced by 130,000 further education college places – a route to higher education for many working-class people and an essential resource for companies offering apprenticeships to young people.
My daughter is a secondary school teacher and recently she spent £40 of her own money to pay for classroom supplies of pens, writing and photocopy paper and ink cartridges for her computer.
She is not unique; thousands of teachers throughout Scotland spend their hard-earned money to ensure they can deliver high-quality lessons to their pupils.
Now part of my weekly shop includes a packet of photocopy paper to ensure my daughter’s pupils have the resources they need and deserve.
In Scotland we are now heading towards a two-tier state education system where parents in well-off areas and whose children are now entitled to a free school meal will raise huge amounts of money to pay for school resources for their children, resources that other schools can only dream of. Fairness? Equality? I think not.
All of us who truly believe that all children and young people deserve the opportunities to achieve their full potential must start interrogating all SNP policies and ask who is really benefitting from them because, at present, it is not the most disadvantaged in our society. And we should always remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.