Scottish local authority leaders reject call for heads to run schools

Council leaders in Scotland have rejected education experts’ calls for head teachers to have more power over their own schools to drive up standards, claiming the move could have the reverse effect. This is from the Times…

The cross-party Commission on School Reform, which reported yesterday, warned that drastic action needs to be taken to improve Scottish education and reverse a decades-long decline. It wants to see heads given greater freedom to make the best decisions for their schools, a move which was challenged by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

Although the commission says the budget should still come from the local council — ruling out English-style academies or free schools — it champions specialist music and language schools. “These examples are important but they are relatively few,” it says. “There are far more examples of local authorities insisting on uniformity of approach among their schools than of them promoting diversity.”

Publishing the report, Keir Bloomer, a former director of education who chaired the commission, said: “We think councils at the present moment in many cases have a tendency to be too much involved in the day-to-day management. We do think that once money has been determined for allocation to education then that should be delegated to schools and it should be as far as possible be delegated to schools without strings attached.”

The report, which contains 37 recommendations, has received tentative backing from Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, and from opposition politicians at Holyrood.

But Councillor Douglas Chapman, education, children and young people spokesman for Cosla, said: “We would argue that more autonomy does not necessarily lead to better outcomes for children, and could potentially make the inter-agency working that is happening right now more difficult.”

Last night, Mr Russell said the Commission’s report “sets out a number of interesting recommendations that I am keen to explore further”.

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