Scottish Independence – Tax Powers

All three main Westminster parties have pledged to devolve some tax raising powers to Scotland after a No vote.

We already are able to vary income tax and no government in Holyrood has taken this on because by itself it is a poisoned chalice. If Westminster were devolve all types and rates of tax keeping only some universal federal taxes to pay for defence and foreign affairs then that would be worthwhile having. An increase in one tax rate can be offset by lowering another and in this way a fine tuned tax regime can be achieved that suits our internal needs.

As it is, these a weasel words from the Conservatives, their cronies and Labour because they know full well that a future Scottish government would be shooting itself in the foot if it were to increase a single tax rate. What is more I suspect that Westminster would devolve one or two taxes and scrap the Barnett formula. In other words they can immediately point to a high spending, high taxing regime North of the Border


Discipline and Punishment

This post is prompted by a post from Don Ledingham regarding the automatic exclusion of pupils for swearing at a a teacher.

I taught in two tough inner city Dundee schools and  exclusion and shouting were both equally ineffective as the pupils were quite used to  shouting, swearing and possibly beatings etc., in their home environment. What really got to them was a slow and lengthy discussion of how poorly they had behaved and how disappointed I was with them and how would their parents react when I told  them about the incident and were they not therefore disappointed with their own behaviour.  More in sorrow than in anger.  Ten minutes of that would often make the brashest thug go to pieces.  Mind you I do have the same effect when I trap a colleague in a corner at a meeting!

The problem in many schools is that incidents come so thick and fast that the SMT do not have time for anything but a cursory approach.  It is back to a question of numbers.  The best schools probably have an incident rate with about 1 or 2 percent persistent offenders in the school population.  Logging persistent offenders over a number of years in poor schools only reveals about 7 or 8 percent persistent offenders but that is enough to run teachers ragged, because it encourages hangers-on to get involved.  Furthermore guidance and SMT are then only fighting fires not preventing them.

School Selection in England

Watching BBC News at 10 I was struck by the thought that the attempts to manipulate the school selection system will never succeed as middleclass supportive areas foster good schools and deprived areas make it much more difficult for any school to become a so-called good school. The teaching staffs in good and bad schools will not be substantially different. It is the community which determines the character of a school far more than the teachers.