Empowering Schools a Consultation on the Provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill - EIS Response

Created on: 31 Jan 2018 | Last modified: 02 Aug 2023


1. The Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland's largest education unions, welcomes this opportunity to provide a written response to the consultation initiated by the Scottish Government on the Provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill. 

2. The EIS believes that any significant changes being made to how schools are governed should be predicted on evidence and analysis, rather than overstated assertions which mistake ambition for practice, evident again in the language deployed in this consultation.

The experience of Scotland's teachers over the past decade has been one of a top-down approach to policy changes which has left them feeling frustrated, marginalised, and undervalued. It would be ironic if legislation purporting to "empower schools" had a simila outcome. 

3. A strong message which has emerged from the Scottish Government's own International Council for Education Advisors has been the importance of encouraging a change of culture around how we do things, rather than focussing on organisational or structural changes.

We need only review the lack of success around the creation of Education Scotland to underline the importance of this message. 

4. Further, the experience of the proposed legislation around the "named person" scheme is illustrative of how an essentially common-sense approach to an educational challenge can be side-tracked by a legislative approach which has proved, in the case of "named person", to be more of hindrance than an assist.

5. The EIS is clear that Scotland's education system is primarily a success story. We reject the doomsayers who wish to talk down what is being achieved in our schools. Equally, however, it is important to avoid any sense of hubris around the progress being made, as challenges undoubtedly exist.

6. In considering what should be contained within the Bill consideration should be given to what is not being changed. For example, Scottish Government has acknowledged the critical role of the SNCT, and its corollaries, the 32 existing LNCTS; a consequence of this must be recognition of the status of local agreements reached between Concils, as the employers, and the Trade Unions, representing staff.

This would be consistent with Scottish Government's support for the Fair Work Convention. Our response below, explores further where some tension may lie between potential changes and existing agreements. 

7. Finally, the EIS believes that the outcome of this consultation and the terms of any proposed legislation, should be firmly focussed on the need to enhance the status of teaching so that the current growing challenge around retention and recruitment is confronted rather than compounded. 

In this regard the lack of broader consideration around issues such as vcollegiality and distributive leadership, in a draft Bill aimed at empowering schools, is disappoint. It is a significant omission, for example, that nowhere in the proposed Bill is consideration given to teachers' professional voice - Headteachers, parens and pupils are all cited but teachers are not.

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