To South Primary School for the meeting of the parents and interested parties and the SNP Lib/Dem alliance who are going to shut the school.
Mr. Rooney and Mr. Naylor of the Education Dept. were also present to persuade the people that closing the school was a good thing. The meeting kicked off with a surprise, there in the chair was Cllr. Cameron of the SNP, the Convener of the Education Board, it really was her, puzzled members of the audience were asking who she was, she introduced herself to a sea of blank puzzled faces, this was a rare sighting indeed.
Over the past year there has been turmoil in the schools of Renfrewshire, children, parents and staff have been hammered by blow after blow by this SNP administration, cuts in the education budget have hit hard and the people involved have demanded answers and arranged public meetings to challenge the SNP who have avoided attending. Even the aforementioned Cllr. Cameron has trotted out excuses such as "I wasn’t invited" remember she is the Convener of the Education Board i.e. she is in charge, not a picture of someone who is entirely confident in her position I fear.
This was the quietest appearance I have ever heard Cllr. Cameron make, she displayed the body language of someone sitting in the dentist’s waiting room for a rather nasty procedure. The presentation by the officers was very predictable, reams of print outs, figures, charts and percentages were displayed and talked through rapidly which only served to annoy the parents. What did come across very strongly though was the panels concentration on money and how much the council could save by closing the school (£190,000 /Yr.) This is the same SNP council which gave senior officers a rise of £11, 500 a year , not an £11,500 a year salary an “11,500 a year rise ! this is the crowd who call themselves Scotland’s Party, they have no shame.
By contrast the parents facing the panel showed that their priority was what is best for the children, the panel at no time mentioned this, it was a glaring difference, they were clearly driven by money and not what is best for the children. The reason they got themselves into this position was the quality of the school which has just been given a great report by HMIe this report made it impossible to suggest that they would do better anywhere else and that in turn left them with the problem of the effect on the children of the closure of the school. None of them had the nerve to suggest that that, was not important, they were left saying that 'de facto' your children are going to suffer because we want to save money, not a comfortable place to be, it requires what we used to call a "brass neck" and the SNP certainly have that.
It’s possible that these children could go to a different school with an HMIe report which is as good as South Primary which would not be easy but, there is no doubt at all that dividing the children into three separate schools will be traumatic it will take them away from friends, cousins, familiar teachers and the environment which they love and feel safe in, the knock on effect will likely mean higher class sizes for the three schools involved, not lower as the SNP promised, a cruel betrayal which was not lost on the parents. They repeatedly threw the SNP manifesto promise of lower classes in their faces, much to the obvious anger of Cllr. Cameron and no doubt SNP Cllrs. Adam and Noon who were skulking around somewher at the back of the hall.
Make no mistake about this, this is an exercise in bean counting and the beans are pound notes, this is about money not what is best for the children, Mr. Rooney and Mr. Naylor’s comments confirmed this in a quite candid manner. The parents were angry and had channelled that anger into a disciplined campaign of opposition, they repeatedly wrong footed the officials with their questions and comments, had this been a fight the referee would have stopped it but, does it matter ? an impartial audience would have scored this debate 100 % to the parents and 0 % to the SNP administration with the SNP lucky to get 0 % but will it count ?
There is an element of cynicism about these procedures stoked up by statistics which show that the original proposals nearly always go through, consultations since the SNP came to power have been held on Warden Charges, Library Closures, Housing Area Office closures and many more, in each occasion the public wanted them kept but they closed anyway so will this be different ? I predict that all the people consulted will demand that South Primary stay open but it will close.
It’s a pity we did not get the chance to hear more from the uncharacteristically quite Cllr. Cameron because this, in the final analys is a political decision by the SNP. I wonder why she saw fit to remain silent ? maybe there is no defence, maybe her party and the officials have decided to follow the example of the American Republican Party and keep her, like Sarah Palin, out of it.
The fight isn’t over by a long way and the South School Parents proved themselves a formidable force, just in fact like any parent fighting for the well being of their children, there is nothing more important than that to a parent.
GOOD LUCK TO THEM, GIVE THEM YOUR SUPPORT ! write to the press, to your MP, to your MSP, your Euor MP, your councillor, to the Education Dept, to Cllr. Cameron etc. don't allow the SNP to get away with this.