Students suffer as Clydebank College budget is eaten up by repair bills
Clydebank College is struggling under the SNP, says Baillie. Picture by Bill Heaney
An Audit Scotland report has revealed that Scotland’s colleges are struggling under this SNP government. The independent report shows that there is a widening attainment gap, dwindling student numbers and sky-rocketing maintenance bills.
West College Scotland, that has a new campus in Clydebank, has the biggest repairs and maintenance bill of all of Scotland’s colleges with a backlog of £49 million over the next five years. This represents almost a fifth of the value of all its assets in 2016-17.
The report also shows that the increase in student numbers over the last year is largely down to under-16s at school who are attending courses. While this increase is welcome, it masks the sustained fall in Full-time Equivalent students.
MSP Jackie Baillie said: “Audit Scotland’s damning report once again highlights a lack of support for Scotland’s colleges under this SNP government. Audit Scotland’s report highlights the fact that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest in our colleges is rising.
“Whilst the £49 million maintenance backlog will not be a significant issue at the new Clydebank campus, West College Scotland as a whole will need to spend a sizeable part of their budget on repairs leaving less available for Clydebank.
“The SNP said that education was their top priority, but their lack of action is showing and is in danger of leaving our colleges behind.”
Meanwhile, Education Secretary, John Swinney, made the mother of all Ministerial climb-downs in Parliament, announcing that he will no longer be tabling the centrepiece of the government’s legislative programme, the Education (Scotland) Bill 2018.
The SNP had failed to gather support for their controversial bill over the last two years, with stakeholders, the government’s own education advisers and other MSPs telling them that it was unwanted, unnecessary and misguided.
Despite the warnings, the SNP has failed to implement the real reform that our schools desperately need. There needs to be proper funding to help our children learn and school staff and teachers need to be properly recognised for the work that they do.
MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP’s education bill has been controversial from the start. The majority of people who know about the education system had warned John Swinney that his plans were misguided.
“Fundamentally, the bill was an attempt to remove control of our local schools from our councils and centralise control in the hands of the Scottish Government. It is ludicrous to suggest that politicians and advisers in Edinburgh would know more about what is best for our schools than the representatives who live and work in our community.
“It is crucial that the SNP now focus their attention on giving our schools the resources that they need and fund a long overdue pay rise for all of the staff in our schools.”