Malcolm calls for a real-terms increase in funding for Scottish education
Malcolm calls on the Scottish Executive to increase education funding Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
Is the cabinet secretary aware that in the real world of Edinburgh, where his SNP colleagues are part of the council administration, there are proposals not to increase nursery hours, not to extend free school meals, not to reduce class sizes and - most of all - to cut school budgets for each of the next three years by 2.5 per cent per annum? If, with the same financial challenges, Labour in England can ensure that every school receives a real-terms funding increase of 0.7 per cent for each of the next three years, will the cabinet secretary find a Scottish way of achieving the same objective?

Michael Russell (The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning):
I sympathise greatly with Malcolm Chisholm's point about protecting education and I will do everything that I can do to achieve that, but the explanation of Labour's policy that followed the pre-budget report was less than convincing. On the radio the next morning, the chancellor ruled out sixth-form colleges as part of the educational establishment. What Alistair Darling and Ed Balls have said about schools allows such wriggle room that the commitment has not been made in the terms that Malcolm Chisholm described.

I want to protect education, which is our investment in the future. However, Malcolm Chisholm will accept - although he might not agree - that the concordat created parity of esteem between levels of government. Local authorities must make their decisions. They do so on the basis of proposals that they issue for discussion and consultation. I understand that no final decision has been made in almost any Scottish local authority area. Decisions will be taken locally in consultation with local voters.

My responsibility is to continue to protect and defend the best in Scottish education, which is very good indeed. The standards in Scottish education are very good. Members who seek to make political points by running down those standards damage Scottish education and themselves.
December 16th 2009, (Column 22196)