Scottish Government education reforms 'will not improve attainment', warn councils

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 January 2018 in News

More clarity needed about roles and responsibilities in school leadership reforms, Scottish Government warned

Children at school - Barry Batchelor/PA

The Scottish Government’s flagship education reforms will not improve the attainment of Scotland’s pupils, Scotland’s councils have warned.

The Education (Scotland) Bill, which is currently under consultation, would establish regional collaborative bodies to drive improvement, hand head teachers more power over school budgets and replace teaching standards body the GTCS with an Education Workforce Council for Scotland.

However, Education Secretary John Swinney must win the support of at least one opposition party to get the reforms through parliament.

Local Authorities won concessions from Swinney in September but in its submission to the consultation, umbrella body COSLA said the plans breached previous agreements.

The regional collaborative bodies must complement, not replace, the work of councils, it warned.

Legal advice suggests handing head teachers more power over hiring and firing of teachers could also lead to legal wrangles, the document added.

COSLA's Children and Young People Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said:  “COSLA are clear that the proposed legislation would not improve the educational attainment of young people, despite this being the goal of both local and Scottish Government.

“We are also clear that the proposals put our head teachers' role as leaders of learning communities at risk.

“The increase in bureaucracy that the proposals would bring has the potential of increasing the existing difficulties councils are experiencing with recruitment and retention.

“Ultimately, there are significant risks to the ideal of local democracy in Scotland and to our ability as councils to provide a multi-service approach to support our young people and their families.”

The Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee is set to review the evidence heard in meetings and focus groups next week.

On Monday, the committee met in Peterhead to hear from education directors from the Northern Alliance, which has been held up as an example of how regional collaborative bodies could work.

Laurence Findlay of Moray Council, who leads to Northern Alliance, told MSPs it had worked because it was a “coalition of the willing” with “distributed leadership” at all levels.

Maria Walker, director of education and children's services at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “The big thing for me is being clear about the different roles in Scottish education. We can be a bit clearer about who does what.”

 

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