COSLA warns John Swinney to 'proceed with caution' in reforming education

Written by Jenni Davidson on 13 June 2016 in News

COSLA‘s education spokesperson has suggested that hasty education reforms could damage future generations

Councils have warned Education Secretary John Swinney to “proceed with caution” with reforming education in Scotland.

The warning from local authority coalition COSLA comes ahead of a summit is aimed at looking at ways to close the attainment gap in Scotland on Wednesday.

COSLA‘s education spokesperson Councillor Stephanie Primrose claimed that to “proceed in a hasty manner could do irreparable damage for future generations.”


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COSLA, along with the Scottish Local Government Partnership, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), has spoken in support of the importance of councils’ roles in providing education.

A pledge in the SNP manifesto to devolve responsibilities currently held by local authorities to schools and to create “new educational regions” led EIS president Pat Flanagan last week to say support for local government control of education was “not unconditional”.

Primrose said:  “Ahead of Wednesday’s summit I would appeal to Mr Swinney to proceed with caution. 

“The aim of central government, local government and all those with an interest in young people is the same, we all have similar aspirations, we all want them to succeed.

“There is plenty to be celebrated within the Scottish education system and to proceed in a hasty manner could do irreparable damage for future generations.

“We know that there is room for improvement in the system and we are up for playing an active role within that improvement/change agenda.”

Primrose added that it was wrong to treat any aspect of a child’s development in isolation.

Instead parties should be looking to break down boundaries and silos to integrate services so that each family has the support it needs without moving between public bodies, she said. 

“Councils are uniquely placed to support every need of the child due, in no small part, to the expertise and professionalism of all their employees who make a difference to families every single day.”

“Ultimately this debate should focus on the needs of families and the local government family, kept together, can deliver for all those needs.”

Chair of the Scottish Local Government Partnership Councillor Jenny Laing said: “There is a wealth of experience and expertise, both in our schools and other local services that support our communities, which makes a real difference to lives and the futures of young people and their families, every day.

“Losing that will would be a backwards step. Learning should be at the heart of our communities, not isolated from them.”

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