The Scottish government has revealed another shake-up to its education system as headteachers are empowered to do what is necessary to improve children’s test scores.
Today, after a series of alarming PISA test results which demonstrated that children in Scotland are falling behind in areas of reading, science and maths in a global context, Education Minister John Swinney launched a fair funding incentive to MSPs.
“We will reform the system so that the key decisions in a child’s education are taken by schools.
“Schools will have the freedom to make their own decisions to improve learning and teaching. Everyone else within the education system will have a collective and shared responsibility to support schools.
“We will free teachers to teach. We will put new powers in the hands of headteachers. And we will all – government, councils and public bodies – support our schools.”
Mr. Swinney announced plans for a regional education board to better direct funding in schools. In this capacity it will be required to “pool and strengthen resources to support learning and teaching in schools”. The board will also be charged with the task of assessing the performance of headteachers and teachers and documenting successes and failures effectively.
As well as improving results in global league tables, the new formula of fair funding has been implemented to narrow the ‘attainment gap’ thereby giving poorer areas better funding and local support. It is in stark contrast to the new National Funding Formula that the Conservative party has proposed which is focused on the construction of new schools as opposed to saving old ones and could see many schools in poor areas receive substantial budget cuts.
The statutory headteachers’ charter will purportedly allow teachers to decide the curriculum’s structure within a broader national framework, allowing a wider variety of topics and discussions to be explored in class.
The movement spurned concern from Cosla, an umbrella group who support the direction from local authorities who have until now been in control of their constituencies’ school funding and subject material. A spokesperson from Cosla described the governments’ move to internalise teaching and funding decisions as a ‘conjuring trick’ designed to exaggerate the influence that local powers had over schools. They have agreed to welcome change if it is conducive to the goals of schools, but they do not believe that it will help them reach equality in schools over Scotland.
“We are clear that what has been announced today erodes local democratic accountability and most certainly will not close the attainment gap.”
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith claimed that the government’s effort to put power in the hands of teachers did not go far enough, claiming that the ideas were “half-baked and only play lip service to real devolution”, proclaiming them as “not enough to deal with the root cause of the problems faced”, a BBC report reveals.