Education policy row over online comments

Woodhill House in Aberdeen.
Woodhill House in Aberdeen.

The leader of Aberdeenshire Council has urged councillors to work together instead of posting “inaccurate and misleading accusations” online.

The call comes after Mr Gifford said there had been “mis-information peddled by a number of SNP and Labour Councillors” about provision of Specialist Teaching in Aberdeenshire.

Mr Gifford confirmed that the new Aberdeenshire Council Administration has not axed, stopped or changed anything that wasn’t already happening within the education service.

He also explained that these matters aren’t determined by councillors and that council officers implement policy decisions.

He said: “The way some teachers will be teaching and how they are utilised has been changing and will continue to change but these are operational decisions in order to deliver council policy – namely, we want our children to be taught music, drama, modern languages, etc. in accordance with the Curriculum for Excellence.

“We hope it goes without saying that the quality of our children’s education is of paramount importance. The way things were organised in the past meant that not all schools have benefited consistently from specialist provision.

“And it is also vitally important that all of our teachers can continue to develop professional skills in delivering the curriculum.

“Where teachers have particular skills, they will be able to use those in schools with Head Teachers being able to take such decisions at a local level and enable pupils to have the best experiences possible.”

However Aberdeenshire Council’s Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Richard Thomson has hit back.

He said: ““This is yet another slopey-shouldered response from a Council Administration which increasingly gives the impression of being in office but not in power.

“Despite the importance of this issue, the basic questions we have been asking since day one are only now beginning to see some clarity. We still need to know how will the specialist skills of these teachers continue to be used to the full; and if specialist teachers are no longer going to be visiting smaller schools with fewer core staff, then how will head teachers in those schools continue to be able to access support to deliver the fullest curriculum?

“There has not been mis-information from the opposition, but there has been a total lack of transparent or useful information from the administration. Parents, pupils and the teachers themselves have needed reassurances – instead of passing the buck to council officers, the administration should have been urgently clarifying its own position.”