Education Governance Review: Next steps

31 Oct

By Dougie Atkinson, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland), for November 2017 Your Voice

In June 2017, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, launched Education Governance: Next Steps – Empowering Our Teachers, Parents and Communities to Delivery Excellence and Equity for Our Children It sets out a vision for taking forward the education system in Scotland. The school governance review forms part of the Government’s wider Delivery Plan for Scottish education, which seeks to improve attainment overall, while also closing the gap between the most and least disadvantaged children.

Simultaneously, the Scottish Government published the consultation Fair Funding to Achieve Excellence and Equity in Education. Closing on 13 October, it proposed significant changes to the existing funding model, including allocating more finance and powers to headteachers and the creation of ‘regional collaboratives’ to support schools and teachers.

In September, the First Minister announced the Programme for Government, reaffirming the Scottish Government’s plans to establish regional collaboratives and give more powers to headteachers. The detail will be in the new Education Bill.

The First Minister’s speech also confirmed the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce new routes into teaching to attract high calibre graduates. We await further details of that particular aspiration, but share the concerns of other education trade unions over the difficulties and risks that fast tracking graduates into classrooms could bring.

Caution and concerns

Voice has already expressed some caution over the Government’s review proposals, which throw up more questions than answers at this stage.

  • What new powers will be devolved to headteachers?
  • How will they work in practice?
  • What is the ‘professionalism of the workforce’ referred to in the review?
  • What will ‘revolutionised’ support and improvement look like?
  • How will the new regions work?

There are also significant cost implications in the review proposals that we want to see addressed.

  • There will be a need in some cases to re-job size promoted posts if they are given additional responsibilities.
  • The new Regional Directors and support will be expensive.
  • Home/school link workers’ arrangements will need to be amended.
  • As with all reviews, there will be transition costs to be met.

And, of course, there are serious questions about the erosion of local democratic accountability for councils.

  • What, for example, will be the relationship between the new Regional Directors and council Chief Education Officers or Chief Executives?
  • Where will the responsibility rest for investigating service complaints relating to schools under the new governance arrangements?
  • How can local authorities ensure that public resources allocated for education delivery are properly accounted for when they have no say over how that money is spent?

Voice has been working closely with COSLA and other education unions in drawing up a comprehensive list of issues that we want the Scottish Government to be clear about moving forward. Until we get that clarity, it is impossible for us to get behind these review ambitions.

We will continue to work with other stakeholders on the review and will discuss our concerns with John Swinney when we meet him in November.

Further information

The Education Governance documents, including the ‘Fair Funding’ consultation and Voice’s response, and the Programme for Government are online via:  www.voicetheunion.org.uk/deliveryplanscotland.

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One Response to “Education Governance Review: Next steps”

  1. Richard Fraser 08. Nov, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Empowering Schools: A consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill
    https://consult.gov.scot/learning-directorate/education-scotland-bill/

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