Education Secretary calls on children’s sector to work together
Jun 23, 2010 No Comments
Education Secretary Mike Russell has issued a call to those involved in children’s services in Scotland to adapt to a new way of working in light of public spending cuts.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Children’s Summit in Edinburgh today, Russell warned professionals that public expenditure is unlikely return to current levels for over a decade and in response the sector must become more efficient and more collaborative.
“We all understand the reality that public sector spending will be reduced significantly in the coming years and if we didn’t know that before yesterday we know it from today’s newspaper headlines. Every organisation represented here will feel the impact of reduced resources. Given the profile of public expenditure that we now see it is likely to be more than a decade before expenditure returns to current levels,” he said.
“Tightening our belts will probably not be enough and we can’t afford to waste time arguing over the resources that are there. We need to recognise the challenge and we need to rise to the challenge collectively. We need radical joined up thinking about the services we provide and the way we provide them.”
The Cabinet Secretary added: “There are three approaches we can take. We can make our services more efficient. We can think more fundamentally about how we deliver services and of course we can also reassess what is expected of us. We’re going to need to consider all three groups and to do so we’re going to need the strong leadership you provide in the sector. We’re going to need collaborative working.”
Given the unprecedented pressure on the public purse in future years Russell also highlighted the importance of investment in early intervention.
"Every pound invested during the formative years of a child's life, saves the taxpayer up to seven pounds later on. Successive governments have acknowledged that early years spending delivers long-term gains by tackling ill-health, improving educational attainment and preventing crime. From day one, this Government has committed itself to that agenda and we now collectively need to build on that,” he said.
The Education Secretary called on professionals to work more flexibly in return for which he pledged to take a consensual approach to the issue.
“What I want from you is to work flexibly across all the boundaries and make sure that you are focused on what we need to continue through difficult times,” he said.
“What can I give? The absolute commitment to a consensus approach to this. A commitment that we will not grandstand on this issue. A commitment that says this is too important for the way in which politicians usually behave. I am the strongest believer in consensus on educational policy because I think the hallmark of the most education systems in the world is consensus on objectives and the highest quality of teaching. And I can’t think of an area more important for getting that consensus approach than this area. So if you give me that flexibility, that keeping your eye on the prize, then Adam and I and our colleagues will do everything we can to ensure that this is not an area of division but an area of unity in the Scottish Parliament and across Scotland.”