The EIS has questioned if the Scottish Government's planned changes to school governance and funding, alone, will improve attainment and equity within schools.

Responding to the Scottish Government consultation on Fair Funding for Schools, the EIS has said that there is no clear rationale behind the proposals and a lack of clear evidence that they would lead to improved educational outcomes for children.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "While the EIS is supportive of some aspects of the Scottish Government's proposals, such as the potential for regional collaboratives to enhance the support available to schools, we do not believe that wider structural change or a new funding model are essential components in delivering the cultural change which is required."

"We do believe, however, that the level of resource provided to schools is critical in any initiative that aims to raise attainment and improve equity within the education system and we are calling for greater investment in teachers and schools."

Mr Flanagan continued, "The EIS has long argued that a national staffing and funding formula for education, which would ring-fence finance provided into schools, would be an important step in ensuring consistency of provision in all parts of the country and would support the drive to increase equity and raise attainment."

"It is disappointing that the Scottish Government does not appear to be considering this option as part of its consultation process, particularly on the staffing side."

"Some elements of education funding, such as Pupil Equity Funds, are ring-fenced so the Scottish Government clearly is not ideologically opposed to this style of funding."

Mr Flanagan added, "The EIS also has concerns over maintaining democratic oversight and accountability for how education funds are spent at school level."

"We do not believe that any one individual, such as the headteacher, should ever be solely responsible for deciding how school funds are used."

"We support devolved school management models, which require a collegiate approach in schools with decisions taken through a committee structure to ensure sound decision making, transparency and value for money. Schools should be democratic places."

"The Scottish Government talks too much about individual Headteachers and not enough about collaborative and collegiate leadership."

Other key points highlighted in the EIS response include:

  • The EIS accepts that the Scottish Government has rejected the 'academies' approach and it welcomes that decision.
  • However, the Scottish Government is in danger of creating schools with the same characteristics as 'academies' in terms of reducing Local Authority power and increasing headteachers’ powers. An appropriate balance between autonomy and accountability needs to be found.
  • The EIS supports empowered schools. The EIS believes that teachers, including headteachers, are the best placed people to make decisions in schools regarding teaching, pedagogy and priorities.
  • An empowered school is about more than empowered headteachers – it is about empowering all teachers.
  • Headteachers have a key role to play in schools and the EIS supports giving headteachers some greater discretion within a context of empowered schools.
  • The EIS believes that headteachers should be able to allocate resources that flow from decisions made at school level by teachers and headteachers – within the democratic school model.
  • There is currently a shortage of headteachers in Scotland. Simply adding to the list of headteachers’ duties and giving them significant statutory obligations and increased financial stewardship may hinder rather than help future recruitment.
  • The EIS does not believe that either of the two funding mechanisms set out in the Fair Funding Consultation, in themselves, would drive an improvement in pupil attainment or equity. 

The EIS believes the current arrangements around funding should evolve as collaboration develops between Local Authorities and between Local Authorities and the Scottish Government – focussing on cultural rather than structural change.