Ministers' plans for schools of ambition not ambitious enough

Disclosure of secret documents have revealed that Lord Irvine Laidlaw told ministers in private talks last year that the 'Schools of Ambition' programme - where schools are given £100,000 a year to boost performance in one particular area - would not make a significant difference unless more money was pumped in.

Laidlaw, whose personal fortune is though to be around £600m, had wanted to donate cash to Scotland's schools, using the model pioneered by Tony Blair in England for City Academies, under which private sector philanthropists donate millions of pounds to help build new schools.
But his offer was rejected, because Scottish ministers did not agree with the idea of donors gaining any control over how state schools are run.

Laidlaw's criticisms came to light after Scotlkand on Sunday obtained minutes of a meeting held in January 2005 between former education minister Peter Peacock and Laidlaw. The secret documents were released by the Executive following a ruling by the Freedom of Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion.

Laidlaw attacked ministers' lack of ambition for schools (Scotland on Sunday, 17 December 2006)