Shift spend from HE to early years, say experts

by Jan 14, 2011 No Comments

Public funding should be shifted from higher education to the early years to tackle Scotland’s escalating social problems, a prominent author has said.

Dr Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being in Glasgow and author in the field of psychology, has warned that Scotland faces an “emerging national crisis” in the scale of drug and alcohol abuse and its impact on children.

To tackle the crisis, university provision should be cut and the resources transferred to the early years, she said.

“The later you put the money in educationally the less beneficial it is. And I hear more and more people saying: ‘I would seriously look at chopping some of the university provision that we’ve got and using that money better’.

I would subscribe to that. I think that if we had lots of money, that’s fine, you could leave it, but I think for Scotland we are going to pay such a bitter price for this growing problem we’ve got of kids that are growing up inadequately looked after, nurtured and educated.” Craig’s comments follow the publication of figures by charity Save the Children Scotland in September which showed a 61 per cent gap in S4 exam performance between pupils registered for free school meals and those who were not.

David Raffe, Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Edinburgh also called for a refocusing of investment on the early years.

“There has to be a focus on the early years and I’m talking about the very early years. Problems can set in well before the age of starting school,” Raffe said.

“Despite being in a university, I’m personally much more relaxed about the possibility that Scotland will reintroduce some kind of fee or graduate contribution. There are ways in which the impact of that can be softened for poorer students,” he added.

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