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Created: 06 January 2017 | Last Updated: 13 January 2017 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

Governance Review Consultation Closes

Friday 6 January 2017 

As the Scottish Government’s consultation on its Review of Education Governance closes today (Friday), The EIS has said that maintaining appropriate democratic accountability at local level is key to education service delivery.

The EIS has welcomed the commitment from the Scottish Government that it will not remove education from local authority control, and that it does not intend to move towards the discredited academy or free school models that have been imposed in other countries.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The Governance Review is all encompassing in its scope, covering as it does every aspect of the current delivery and governance arrangements.

"The EIS would express caution about the capacity of schools, and the system generally, to cope with a possible pace and reach of change which might induce an unwelcome element of instability to service delivery.

"It is essential that sufficient time is taken to make the correct decisions and to prepare for changes, rather than rushing to judgement and implementation simply to meet political rather than educational imperatives.”

Mr Flanagan added, "Recent tensions between national and local government have led some to question whether the current model of delivery through Local Authorities is the best means of delivering education at a local level.

"It could be argued, however, that the checks and balances which exist between the different layers of government is an important aspect of a pluralist approach to democracy.

"The EIS does not believe that it would be useful at this point to look at any significant restructuring of the basic relationship between the two arms of government; in fact, we would go further and state that it would be a significant distraction from the real needs of Scottish Education to engage in such a process.”

Mr Flanagan went on to say, "Scottish councils have always provided a mechanism for ensuring a level of local democratic accountability which, for us, remains an important principle as far as public service delivery is concerned.

"It is important that new initiatives, such as the £120M in additional funding for attainment projects, are managed through these types of democratic structures to ensure fairness and transparency."

The EIS welcomes the fact the Cabinet Secretary for Education has made public statements to the effect that it is not the intention of Scottish Government to pursue the removal of Education from Local Authorities, and has ruled out any move towards the disastrous policies pursued south of the border in relation to academies and free schools.”

In its consultation submission, the EIS says that the greatest strength of the current arrangements lies in the partnership approach which characterises Scottish Education.

This is partly owing to the diversity of organisations which play a role in our system, including the professional associations, but is also a reflection of the consensus which has characterised educational development in Scotland and which has been strengthened in the era of the Scottish Parliament.

System-wide support for the principle of comprehensive education, including from both arms of government, is firmly rooted in the Scottish outlook of education being a societal good.

The social partnership approach of our education system has been fundamental to the development of the inclusive principles of CfE, the delivery of which is reflective of this strength.

It is worth remarking that any existing tension between Scottish and Local Government is largely predicated on resourcing challenges rather than fundamental policy differences.

Commenting on the key aim of achieving equity in education, Mr Flanagan said, "The greatest barrier to educational equality is and has been the imposition of austerity driven budgets and the under-funding of the Scottish Education system over the past period.

"It is clear that in significant areas, such as pupil support, previous levels of provision have simply disappeared and this inevitably creates barriers for children’s learning.”

He added, "It is our view that the failure to reduce average class sizes has a significant detrimental impact on the achievement of equity and excellence for all.

"Genuine commitment to tackling inequality of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage requires solid support for schools, and the necessary resources, as the EIS has outlined in its submission to the Governance Review.”