Strip councils of education responsibilities, parents suggest
Centralising education services is one of a number of radical ideas proposed by parents’ groups, in the wake of announcements by several councils that severe education cuts are on the way.
Giving evidence to MSPs yesterday, parents’ representatives pointed to increasing costs for families in their children’s education, and recent announcements by Highland council, Glasgow and others of potential school closures, teachers being laid off and school days being shortened.
“We’re supposed to have education free at the point of use. We don’t,” said Eileen Prior of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.
Iain Ellis, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland said: “We seem to have rationalised everything else across the country, like Police Scotland. I would suggest could we go down to Scottish education and do away with 32 authorities. Take it off their hands completely."
Prior agreed. "We actually think the time has come to take a radical rethink, to step back and say is local authority delivery of education the best way that we can do this, because I'm not sure that there is enough flex left within local authorities to really maintain the investment we need in our schools and young people to get to where we want to go,” she said.
Other suggestions included councils sharing services. Prior said: "We've got 32 local authorities, we've got an incredible amount of duplication. Is that the most efficient way for us to deliver education for the betterment of all of our young people? That's a question we need to address.”
Last week Highland council have announced £64m worth of cuts is likely to lead to shortening of school hours and teachers being laid off. South Lanarkshire council reported: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to achieve local and national priorities,” while Education Services at Dumfries and Galloway Council said there were no additional funds available to deliver Getting it Right for Every Child commitments like 52-week provision of education services per year