The Scottish Education Governance Review: Update: Next Steps

15 Jun

Update: 15 June 2017

Next Steps published.

Update: 5 January 2017

Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve Excellence and Equity in Education: a Governance Review

Voice Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation, Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve Excellence and Equity in Education: a Governance Review. 

In summary:
‘What are the strengths of the current governance arrangements of Scottish education?’

“The principles of equity, consistency and the local nature of decision-making are key strengths of the current system, ensuring continuity for service users and for those delivering education across the country. The ability to set common goals, such as that of closing the attainment gap, is another strength of the system.”

“”… the SNCT/LNCT negotiating machinery should be maintained.

“…decisions regarding individual children are already taken at establishment-level across the country, with the backing of a local authority network. We are pleased to note Scottish Government’s intention in relation to this Governance Review not to seek removal of Scottish education from local authority control. Indeed, we would not support the “academisation” route, for example, that has been implemented down south.

The key issue facing Scottish education…is the depletion of education funding. This has not only weakened the availability of local authority support to head teachers within schools but has also significantly reduced the resources available to head teachers within school, particularly in relation to staffing levels. This seriously hinders the ability of the education system to close the attainment gap.

“It must therefore be recognised that a review of governance arrangements is not a means of compensating for the detrimental funding cuts which are impacting upon education services.  

“Any new governance arrangement, if appropriate, must go hand in hand with sufficient funding being provided for the delivery of education services.”  

‘What are the barriers within the current governance arrangements to achieving the vision of excellence and equity for all?’

“…Budget reductions in recent years have seriously impacted upon the ability of schools to deliver excellence and equity for all… Our letter of 17 June 2016 to Mr Swinney is pertinent here.

“We would highlight in particular that our classroom assistant and pupil support assistant members make a key contribution to raising attainment policy. For example, in supporting literacy and numeracy activities in the classroom with groups and individual pupils.

“Whilst Scottish Government has sought to protect teacher numbers in principle, which we support, without appropriate funding the inevitable conclusion has been for local authorities to target support staff posts in order to make savings. Schools are therefore not only experiencing a shortage of teachers, especially in relation to supply, but also in relation to wider school staffing. For example, a variety of local authority consultation exercises have proposed classroom assistant cuts.

“This also has a knock-on effect on teacher workloads, causing increased pressure on time to teach as a result of a lack of support staff to undertake those tasks which are out with a teachers’ remit.

“School support staff are often engaged with some of the most deprived children within a school and those with special needs. The reduction in support posts does not therefore bode well for closing the attainment gap, as it will be the most vulnerable pupils that will suffer the most from such cuts. Whilst we support protection of teacher numbers, it is concerning that similar protections have not been implemented for other education professionals within schools.”

Head teacher recruitment is extremely difficult and is being considered in detail by the Head Teacher Recruitment Working Group, which Voice Scotland is a member of.”

Terms and conditions within the early years sector are a key barrier to successfully achieving a high quality and expanded service by 2020. It is submitted that, in terms of ensuring that the ELC sector is seen as an attractive long-term career route, staff terms and conditions will be key… a national pay and conditions framework for early years workers would help to improve the perception of careers within early years within society generally and make it more attractive to a wider range of potential candidates.” 

‘What changes to governance arrangements are required to support decisions about children’s learning and school life being taken at school level?’

“…levels of autonomy delegated to schools can vary across the country. As such, more decision-making powers could potentially be taken at school level, in principle. However, within many establishments, there just isn’t the resource and support in place at present to enable that to happen effectively.

“The barriers within the system to head teacher recruitment must be considered in the context of the Governance Review, if greater decision-making powers are to potentially be devolved to schools….– if this is not appropriately managed, already overworked head teachers will have an even greater workload and the recruitment crisis will deepen. In this event, there will not be the individuals in post to in fact take the devolved decisions proposed under any new governance arrangement.”

“…a head teacher is a leader of learning, not a business manager or accountant. As such, appropriate levels of support for non-learning aspects require to be established as these have dwindled further to recent budget cuts.

Work-life balance and employee wellbeing are key considerations in the context of support for head teachers. Teachers will not be encouraged to pursue a head teacher post if they see their current Head Teachers’ health and personal lives suffering as a result of their workloads and responsibilities.

‘What services and support should be delivered by schools? What responsibilities should be devolved to teachers and teachers to enable this?’

Head teachers need to be able to focus on the delivery of education, including pastoral support, to all pupils taking the needs of the whole child into account.

Head teachers should have flexibility in delivery of the curriculum within their establishment to suit context and local need.

Head teachers should also be able to take decisions in managing/organising the building with the support and backing of their local authority. This will require decision-making powers in relation to an establishment’s budget and comprehensive training (and time within the working day to attend) for head teachers and senior managers.

Business-related elements should be within the remit of others within the local authority e.g. business manager. … due to budget cuts many of the supports to head teachers previously in place have significantly dwindled.”

Home liaison in early years and family support for those with additional support needs would be best supported by schools.” 

‘How can children, parents, communities, employers, colleges, universities and others play a stronger role in school life? What actions should be taken to support this?’

Efforts to improve parental and family engagement should continue. Forums such as Parent Council should be formalised…

Wider community involvement should continue to be encouraged…

“Sufficient funding is required in order to facilitate the above.”

‘How can the governance arrangements support more community-led early learning and childcare provision particularly in remote and rural areas?’

This is a question of adequate funding and staffing to enable establishments to further develop their services. With regards to the proposed further ELC expansion by 2020, we would support local authority expansion of services, rather than reliance on the private sector.

An early years pay and conditions framework would level a playing field…” 

‘How can effective collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners be further encouraged and incentivised?’

“Teachers currently work collegiately with colleagues at school level, within their cluster and in an online learning environment. In order to further develop this, adequate funding and time within the working week is required. Sufficient staffing levels, including support staff levels, are necessary to create time for collaboration to take place, otherwise working time is exhausted on ensuring core activity is delivered – i.e. teaching.” 

‘What services or functions are best delivered at a regional level? This may include functions or services currently delivered at a local or a national level.’ 

Non-learning and teaching elements such as staffing and HR matters such as Occupational Health, ICT support, quality assurance, management of the school estate, in-service training.

“Voice Scotland considers that staff should remain employees of the authority rather than become employees of a particular establishment(s). This is on the basis that contracts normally contain flexibility clauses, enabling efficient redeployment between establishments in line with service need as may be appropriate, which prevents redundancy procedures (and payments) coming into play which runs the risk of staff being lost from the sector entirely.” 

‘What services or support functions should be delivered at a national level?’

“Examples include inspection, guidance and direction of the curriculum, assessment, professional learning provision (for example, SCEL in the context of educational leadership), professional registration, and finance formulae. There requires to be clarity regarding the remit of national bodies, to avoid duplication.

“Voice Scotland supports nationalised terms and conditions frameworks for all education professionals.”

‘How should governance support teacher education and professional learning in order to build the professional capacity we need? 

“…the focus here should be on supporting the education and professional learning of all education professionals, not only the teacher workforce, as everyone in education has their part to play if we are to succeed in closing the attainment gap.

Time is a key resource that is lacking to enable professionals to engage in CLPL opportunities. Staff shortages mean that staff can face difficulty in being released to access such opportunities.

“SCEL… should continue to be at the forefront of delivering leadership development opportunities… and for this to be promoted within establishments and authorities to avoid duplication.

‘What further controls over funding should be devolved to school level?’

“Consideration could be given to schools or clusters managing funding at this level but only if adequate training is provided and proper resourcing, including staffing, to ensure adequate capacity to exercise such controls in practice.”

‘How could the accountability arrangements for education be improved?’

“By ensuring a clear, concise structure of responsibility agreed from school to national government level, avoiding duplication.”


Update: 21 November 2016
Let us know your views below…

EdGovRevThe Education Governance Review has:

the potential to change the shape of education provision in Scotland“.

potential for already overloaded headteachers and school staff to be further swamped by their workloads… difficulties which have been experienced in other parts of the UK by increased authority being devolved to headteachers…”

Have your say with our short survey.

(Survey runs until 30 November 2016).


Update: 26 October 2016

Take part in Voice Scotland’s survey on the Education Governance Review (Survey runs until 30 November 2016).

(Ask the DFM about the Governance Review on Glow TV, 17 November 2016)

Meeting with John Swinney, 5 October 2016

Update: 21 September 2016

Announcements by Education Secretary at Scottish Learning Festival:

Qualifications and assessment

Digital learning: Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy


Update: 11/13 September 2016

Governance review update: Announcement   The Review

Update: 29 August 2016

Education Scotland publishes  guidance for teachers on how to reduce workload and bureaucracy:

Further information:











Update: 28 June 2016

Delivery Plan published

Deputy First Minister’s Statement

Voice Scotland’s response.

Update: 17 June 2016

Voice Scotland’s letter to Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney

Update: 15 June 2016

Education Summit, Edinburgh

An Education Summit, convened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, was held on 15 June 2016 at at Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh.

Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) Jennifer Barnes attended the Education Summit on behalf of Voice Scotland, together with fellow education stakeholders.  The attendees met to consider what is required to close the educational attainment gap and raise standards for all children in Scotland.

Jennifer Barnes said:

“The First Minister has stated that closing the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils is the Scottish Government’s key priority. It is the Government’s intention that the summit informs a Delivery Plan, which will be published by the end of the school year.

“Mr Swinney has also invited Scotland’s teaching unions to ‘identify specific, tangible ways ways to reduce unnecessary teacher workload’.

“Voice Scotland is pleased to engage with Scottish Government on these important issues on behalf of its members and looks forward to receiving the draft Delivery Plan in due course*. [*Update from John Swinney.]

“Voice Scotland will report on progress via our website and blog.”

Let us know your suggestions for “ways to reduce unnecessary teacher workload”, or other comments, below.

At today’s Education Summit in Edinburgh with Deputy First Minister John Swinney and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon:











25 May 2016

Education, ‘the defining mission’ for Scottish Government

Education ‘at the heart’ of First Minister‘s priorities

Announcing that education was ‘at the heart’ of her priorities, and ‘the defining mission’ of the Scottish Government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on 25 May 2016 that, before the summer holidays, Education Secretary John Swinney would publish a ‘draft Delivery Plan’ to ‘improve Scottish education’, ‘setting out more of the detail, timescales and next steps in our plans to close the attainment gap’. It ‘will build on the discussions he is already having with teachers, parents, local government and trade unions and provide the basis for further consultation’.

She announced a ‘major summit on school reform and raising attainment’, to be convened ‘over the next few months’, bringing together ‘all the key stakeholders in education’, and confirmed plans to review the funding formula for schools, including investing an extra £750 million over the next five years directly in school education. As part of this, ‘headteachers will be given more freedom and support to direct funds into learning’.

She had previously announced an ‘International Council of Education Advisersto give guidance on ‘the best possible evidence from around the world’.

The First Minister said that ‘the expansion of childcare will be our most important infrastructure project of this parliament’. ‘By the end of the next parliament, the availability of flexible, high quality and state funded early years education and childcare will be doubled to 30 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds. Children eligible for extended early years provision will also benefit from free meals –like children in primaries 1-3 already do. And, by 2018, every nursery in our most deprived areas will have an additional qualified teacher or childcare graduate. This will be a key early step in ensuring the quality – as well as the quantity – of expanded childcare.

A Commissioner for Fair Access will be appointed to ‘drive the change that will be needed in our universities and colleges and ensure the recommendations of the Widening Access Commission are implemented in full’.

Voice’s Senior Professional Officer (Scotland), Jennifer Barnes, said that she looked forward to working with the new Education Secretary and his team in taking forward his programme in ‘challenging times for education in Scotland’.

BBC coverage

Voice Scotland’s Election Statement 2016 

Let us know your views…



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4 Responses to “The Scottish Education Governance Review: Update: Next Steps”

  1. Richard Fraser 03. Oct, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    SQA to remove unit assessments at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher levels

  2. Richard Fraser 13. Dec, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Voice Scotland responds to 2017 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan

  3. Richard Fraser 23. Jun, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    TESS article by John Swinney:

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