One-way politik: Scotlands schools in crisis?

by endlesspsych

You’d be forgiven for thinking so given todays headlines.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats called for education secretary Fiona Hyslop to quit after figures showed the total number of teachers fell by almost 1,000 in the space of a year.

The total number of teachers in pre-school, primary, secondary and special schools and in visiting specialist posts, was 53,584 – 975 fewer than in 2007.

The councils responsible for hiring the teachers have responded by saying that it would be madness to employ more teachers when confronted by falling school rolls.


They are right you know. School rolls are falling and the result of this is that the net ration of teachers to pupils is rising… The pupil teacher ratio in schools increased from 12.9 in 2008 to 13.2 in 2009. So why all the shouting about lower numbers of teachers?

Might one venture to suggest it’s just a simple number for the opposition to mindlessly shout about which doesn’t really tell us anything about the state of education in Scotland?

Aren’t the local authorities correct to not be employing new teachers? Money is tight – if class sizes can be kept at a reasonable level (where there is little conclusive evidence to suggest smaller class sizes are beneficial) what it the problem?

To my mind it’s an example of something I would describe as “one-way politics” the kind of politics that lead to there being no effective opposition to the war on terror because no one wanted to be seen as soft on terrorism. Essentially it seems there are certain issues on which rational thought is trumped for the emotive impact of a catchy soundbite. No one really cares about the numbers they care about making the other side look bad. So far, so what’s new? Politics has “progressed” in such a way for many a year hasn’t it?

Depressingly enough probably but there is one particularly pernicious aspect to one-way politics that annoys, frustrates and worries me more than the childish point scoring of tribal party politik. That is that on certain issues – education, crime and immigration to name a few there is only one direction that policies and initiatives can move in. Generally towards some arbitrary consensus based on little more than Daily Mail editorials and the opportunity to trump the opposition.

It’s why every debate about immigration at least has to address vague concerns about the negative effects while immigration itself probably isn’t that much of a problem – indeed some research has suggested people moving from the North of the country to the South puts more of a stretch on resources – 2.5 million people have moved to the South East from the rest of Britain and around  1.4 economic immigrants have come to the whole country. But immigration is a huuge perceived problem – much like crime. So rational and reasoned responses cannot be relied upon.

It’s why crime laws, particularly drug legislation, appear to get harder and harder. You can’t seen to be soft on these issues as that gives the opposition an opportunity to attack. Just look at what happened to Prof. Nutt. Sacked for daring to suggest (in unrelated academic work) that cannabis classification did not relate to the level of harm it actually caused… One-way politics trumps even scientific evidence.

Frankly its a ridiculous system and the sooner someone points out how ridiculous it is in gubmint (and we all listen) the better.