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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 24 September 2009

Note: (DT) signifies a decision taken at Decision Time.

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Teacher Numbers: Rhona Brankin moved S3M-4910—That the Parliament notes the most recent reduction in the number of teachers employed in Scotland revealed by the September 2009 public sector employment figures; further notes that this follows on from the Teachers in Scotland 2008 census, which showed that the number of teachers fell by nearly 1,000 on the previous year, and asks how this can be reconciled with the SNP’s manifesto pledge and concordat commitment to maintain teacher numbers in the face of falling school rolls in order to cut class sizes; highlights with concern the Times Educational Supplement Scotland survey, published in August 2009, suggesting that only 15% of this year's newly qualified teachers had secured full-time permanent work at the start of the school term as well as the General Teaching Council Scotland follow up survey suggesting that, even half way through the 2008-09 school year, only around a third of the previous year's probationary teachers had found full-time permanent posts; believes that the Scottish Government has precipitated a teacher jobs crisis, forcing many of the most qualified new teachers in Scotland's history to look elsewhere in the United Kingdom or beyond for suitable employment; believes that this represents an appalling loss of talent to Scotland's education system and a gross betrayal of those enticed to train as teachers as well as those who voted SNP due to its election pledges on schools, and therefore calls on the SNP government to publish detailed plans of how it will deliver on its manifesto and concordat commitments on teacher numbers.

Keith Brown moved amendment S3M-4910.3 to motion S3M-4910—

Leave out from “the most recent” to end and insert—

“that Scotland benefits from a record low in average class size in primary schools, that the number of P1to P3 pupils in classes of 18 or under is increasing and that the Scottish average primary class size is considerably smaller than those for England and Wales; welcomes the record levels of funding provided by the currentadministration to local government and the commitment set out in the concordat to reduce class sizes but notes that the employment of teachers is a matter for local authorities; welcomes the continuing commitment of the Scottish Government andlocal government to work together to make further progress on class size reduction; highlights with concern that the previous administration took no legislative action to support its class size reduction policy and notes the recently announced intention of the Scottish Government to introduce regulations for a maximum class size of 25 in P1 from the beginning of the 2010 school year and to review more generally how class sizes are governed, andalso recognises the action of the Scottish Government to ensure a better balance between supply and demand of teachers.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 46, Against 73, Abstentions 0).

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S3M-4910.1 to motion S3M-4910—

Insert at end—

“; considers that the universal provision of free school meals in P1 to P3 will impact on the ability of councils to recruit and retain teachers, and believes that head teachers should have much greater say in the recruitment of teachers and other staff in their schools.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 70, Against 49, Abstentions 0).

Margaret Smith moved amendment S3M-4910.2 to motion S3M-4910—

After “class sizes” insert—

“; raises concern about the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence in the face of falling teacher numbers; acknowledges that the previous administration increased the number of teachers by 4,600 between 1999 and 2007; notes the continued reduction in the number of full-time equivalent nursery teachers as shown in the Scottish Government’s Pre-school and Childcare Statistics 2009”.

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 73, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 70, Against 48, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the most recent reduction in the number of teachers employed in Scotland revealed by the September 2009 public sector employment figures; further notes that this follows on from the Teachers in Scotland 2008 census, which showed that the number of teachers fell by nearly 1,000 on the previous year, and asks how this can be reconciled with the SNP’s manifesto pledge and concordat commitment to maintain teacher numbers in the face of falling school rolls in order to cut class sizes; raises concern about the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence in the face of falling teacher numbers; acknowledges that the previous administration increased the number of teachers by 4,600 between 1999 and 2007; notes the continued reduction in the number of full-time equivalent nursery teachers as shown in the Scottish Government’s Pre-school and Childcare Statistics 2009; highlights with concern the Times Educational Supplement Scotland survey, published in August 2009, suggesting that only 15% of this year's newly qualified teachers had secured full-time permanent work at the start of the school term as well as the General Teaching Council Scotland follow up survey suggesting that, even half way through the 2008-09 school year, only around a third of the previous year's probationary teachers had found full-time permanent posts; believes that the Scottish Government has precipitated a teacher jobs crisis, forcing many of the most qualified new teachers in Scotland's history to look elsewhere in the United Kingdom or beyond for suitable employment; believes that this represents an appalling loss of talent to Scotland's education system and a gross betrayal of those enticed to train as teachers as well as those who voted SNP due to its election pledges on schools, and therefore calls on the SNP government to publish detailed plans of how it will deliver on its manifesto and concordat commitments on teacher numbers; considers that the universal provision of free school meals in P1 to P3 will impact on the ability of councils to recruit and retain teachers, and believes that head teachers should have much greater say in the recruitment of teachers and other staff in their schools.

2. Child Protection: Claire Baker moved S3M-4911—That the Parliament notes with grave concern the Summary of Indicative Quality Indicator Results from HMIE Inspections, published on 17 September 2009, showing that 23% of local authority child protection services in Scotland were evaluated as weak or unsatisfactory; further notes with similar concern the findings of the significant case review and review for chief officers reports into the death of Brandon Muir, revealing gaps and inaccuracies in the sharing of information between agencies concerned in his care and the terrible circumstances of his life as well as death; believes that the situation highlighted by these publications cannot be tolerated in a civilised society; acknowledges and commends the efforts and dedication of staff involved in the safety and care of Scotland’s children, often under considerable pressure but believes that these reports confound the comments of the First Minister on 25 June 2009 that we have a very good child protection system in Scotland; recognises the initiative taken by the previous administration in tackling this problem by bringing together a series of actions contained in the Hidden Harm report; calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward a report and to make a statement to the Parliament on the progress that it is making in implementing the recommendations of Hidden Harm and also what it is doing to build on those recommendations, and also calls on the Scottish Government to report to the Parliament on the steps it is taking to identify those children who are at risk as a result of living with parents or carers who are alcohol or substance misusers.

Adam Ingram moved amendment S3M-4911.2 to motion S3M-4911—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“notes with concern the 23% of local authority child protection services in Scotland that scored weak or unsatisfactory in at least one of the reference quality indicators, reported in the Summary of Indicative Quality Indicator Results from HMIE Inspections, published on 17 September 2009; welcomes the fact that 77% of authorities have achieved positive child protection reports; recognises the immensely valuable contribution made by those professionals working in frontline child protection services; recognises that further improvement is necessary and will be informed by the second round of inspections now underway; looks forward to HMIE’s summary report that will provide the most comprehensive national picture of child protection that Scotland has ever had, which, taken together with the findings of the recent significant case review into the death of Brandon Muir, will feed into the national review of child protection guidance; encourages measures to address the increasing prevalence of substance misuse and its impact on children within the framework of Road to Recovery; encourages the promotion of the Getting it Right for Every Child approach, and looks forward to public consultation on the review of national child protection guidance that will address assessment of risk and information sharing for all children, including those suffering from parental substance misuse, domestic abuse and other risks to their safety and wellbeing.”

Robert Brown moved amendment S3M-4911.2.1 to amendment S3M-4911.2—

Insert at end—

“recognises the initiative taken by the previous administration in tackling this problem by bringing together a series of actions contained in the Hidden Harm report; calls on the Scottish Government to take effective action to identify and focus on those children who are at risk, particularly as a result of living with parents or carers who are alcohol or substance abusers; calls on the Scottish Government to report to the Parliament within three months and thereafter periodically on the progress made on this, in building on the recommendations of Hidden Harm and in the follow-up inspection work by HMIE, and looks for a child-centred approach to child protection that has the welfare and best interests of children at its heart.”

Elizabeth Smith moved amendment S3M-4911.1 to motion S3M-4911—

Insert at end—

“, and further calls on the Scottish Government to acknowledge the concern about the growing number of parents in society who lack the necessary skills to bring up their children responsibly and to address this issue as a matter of urgency.”

After debate, amendment 4911.2.1 was agreed to (DT).

Amendment 4911.2, as amended, was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 43, Abstentions 18).

Amendment 4911.1 was agreed to (DT).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT) by division: For 74, Against 43, Abstentions 2).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved— That the Parliament notes with concern the 23% of local authority child protection services in Scotland that scored weak or unsatisfactory in at least one of the reference quality indicators, reported in the Summary of Indicative Quality Indicator Results from HMIE Inspections, published on 17 September 2009; welcomes the fact that 77% of authorities have achieved positive child protection reports; recognises the immensely valuable contribution made by those professionals working in frontline child protection services; recognises that further improvement is necessary and will be informed by the second round of inspections now underway; looks forward to HMIE’s summary report that will provide the most comprehensive national picture of child protection that Scotland has ever had, which, taken together with the findings of the recent significant case review into the death of Brandon Muir, will feed into the national review of child protection guidance; encourages measures to address the increasing prevalence of substance misuse and its impact on children within the framework of Road to Recovery; encourages the promotion of the Getting it Right for Every Child approach, and looks forward to public consultation on the review of national child protection guidance that will address assessment of risk and information sharing for all children, including those suffering from parental substance misuse, domestic abuse and other risks to their safety and wellbeing ; recognises the initiative taken by the previous administration in tackling this problem by bringing together a series of actions contained in the Hidden Harm report; calls on the Scottish Government to take effective action to identify and focus on those children who are at risk, particularly as a result of living with parents or carers who are alcohol or substance abusers; calls on the Scottish Government to report to the Parliament within three months and thereafter periodically on the progress made on this, in building on the recommendations of Hidden Harm and in the follow-up inspection work by HMIE, and looks for a child-centred approach to child protection that has the welfare and best interests of children at its heart, and further calls on the Scottish Government to acknowledge the concern about the growing number of parents in society who lack the necessary skills to bring up their children responsibly and to address this issue as a matter of urgency.

3. General Question Time: Questions were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

4. First Minister’s Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister (Alex Salmond).

5. Themed Question Time: Questions on Health and Wellbeing were answered by the Cabinet Secretary and Ministers.

6. Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill: The Minister for Public Health and Sport (Shona Robison) moved S3M-4807—That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 102, Against 16, Abstentions 1).

7. Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution: The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing (Nicola Sturgeon) moved S3M-4467—That the Parliament, for the purposes of any Act of the Scottish Parliament resulting from the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill, agrees to any expenditure of a kind referred to in paragraph 3(b)(iii) of Rule 9.12 of the Parliament’s Standing Orders arising in consequence of the Act.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

8. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2, 6 and 7 as noted above.

9. Giving Blood, Giving the Gift of Life: The Parliament debated S3M-4282 in the name of Rhoda Grant—That the Parliament notes with concern the decline in the number of blood donors in Scotland, a number that has decreased by 30,000 in the last decade; further notes that in the Highlands alone, the service requires 23,000 donors to give blood in 2009; supports the appeal by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service for donors to give blood at least once in 2009 to reverse the decline in the donor base; believes that there would be benefit in employers giving their staff paid time off to donate blood, and hopes that Scots who have not already done so will register to give blood and give the gift of life.

The meeting closed at 5.48 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
24 September 2009

Appendix
(Note: this Appendix does not form part of the Minutes)

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 24 September 2009 and is subject to annulment

The Food Labelling (Nutrition Information) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 (SSI 2009/328)

laid under section 48(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990

Other Documents

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 24 September 2009 and are not subject to any parliamentary procedure—

Scottish Legal Aid Board Annual Report 2008-2009 (SG/2009/135)

laid under section 5(7)(a) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 and section 22(5) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People Annual Accounts Year Ended 31 March 2009 (SG/2009/185)

laid under section 22(5) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000