School governance reforms will have zero impact on attainment gap, warn charities and public servants

Written by Tom Freeman on 11 January 2017 in News

Children in Scotland join SPTC and SOLACE in questioning effectiveness of structural change in education

School kid doing classwork

School work - Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire

A major reform of the school system will fail to make any progress in tackling the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils, a collection of charities has warned.

The Scottish Government consultation on the governance of the country’s schools, which closed this week, has seen similar warnings from teacher and parent groups.

Suggestions that local authorities may be stripped of certain responsibilities over education with budgets given directly to schools has been met with caution in many of the submissions.


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Children in Scotland, a collective voice for charities and other interest groups, said the current proposals will fail to make any progress in narrowing the attainment gap.

Chief Executive Jackie Brock said there is very little appetite for further reorganisation among children’s services.

“We see virtually no evidence to suggest that departing from the current model of education governance would contribute in any meaningful way to closing the gap in attainment.”

“It is right that the Scottish Government’s determination to address the challenges of excellence and equity is matched by a willingness to hold the whole system to account in order for Scotland’s performance to improve.

“But we struggle to understand the leap from this legitimate and necessary calling to account, to the narrow solution of lessening local authority responsibility for improvement.”

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council said the consultation had left parents “puzzled and feeling excluded” from the debate.

“It is ironic that a document which has as one of its stated aims that parents should be more empowered, in fact excluded very many parents from participation,” the group’s submission said.

“The consultation presumed high levels of knowledge about the existing governance model in Scottish education and used language which would be familiar only to those working in the sector.”

SPTC executive director Eileen Prior said supporting more parents to engage with their child’s learning would be the most effective measure.

Council chief executives’ representative body SOLACE also warned against “wholesale structural change”.

Chair Fiona Lees said: “We do not believe that focusing on further structural and legislative change is the way forward. This risks adding further bureaucracy to the system and takes the focus away from improving outcomes for children and young people and the communities in which they live.”

The Scottish Government has committed to further consultation on a new Education Bill early this year.

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