Education Governance: Next Steps – Empowering Our Teachers, Parents and Communities to Deliver Excellence and Equity for Our Children

The SSTA supports the Government’s determination to bring about improvements in Education by ‘closing the attainment gap’ and giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential. However, the SSTA has argued for a process of review followed by improvements rather than major structural change.

The Government has chosen to use its ‘Governance Review’ as the vehicle to look at the agencies and structures involved in education, but not the structures inside the school that support teaching and learning. Structure is only important insofar as it supports and nurtures teaching and learning in the pupil/teacher relationship.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said “The SSTA expected the review to identify the following:

  • A national body to develop teaching materials, resources and strategies to support teachers develop learning in secondary schools. This would prevent the duplication that takes place in every secondary school in Scotland.
  • A review of school management structures that recognises and values the importance of subject specialism and focuses management on teaching and learning.
  • Support systems provided by the Local Authority to remove tasks that do not require the skills and expertise of leaders of teaching and learning.
  • Address the deepening crisis in retaining and recruiting teachers and headteachers in its schools. The Scottish Government needs to acknowledge that teachers working conditions and remuneration have failed to keep pace with the rapidly changing education environment. An urgent need for investment.
  • Reject further delegation of responsibilities and funding to headteachers in schools as this will only worsen the headteacher recruitment crisis. Headteachers want to focus on leading learning and do not need to be forced into spending more time on bureaucracy and administration.
  • The importance of Local Authority in managing the education system. The Local Authorities have the ability to bring together all local services to support pupils and their families in their journey through school. The Local Authority should play an important part in removing burdens and obstacles from teachers and headteachers and allow them to exert all their energies on learning.
  • The need for Local Authorities to collaborate across Authority boundaries to ensure there are a sufficient number of teachers, headteachers and supply teachers in our schools. Good examples of collaboration would be a national supply teacher register, a joint recruitment strategy, developing leadership programmes, and a national professional development network for all education staff.
  • The Inspectorate to focus its efforts upon Local Authorities. The Local Authorities should be the driving force for excellence in schools for all young people. The Inspectorate should seek naturally occurring evidence in the schools to support the work of the Local Authorities”.

“The SSTA accepts that ‘Education Governance: Next Steps’ has addressed many of these expectations but there are a number of areas that may have unintended consequences. Initial concerns are

  • Further delegation to schools and headteachers may lead to a worsening of the headteacher recruitment crisis.
  • The devolving of powers to schools should lead to a different dynamic in the running of the schools. The involvement of the school staff in the direction and decision making of the school will need to be developed.
  • The measures to reduce the leadership role of local authorities in delivering education could remove the schools safety blanket and vital support systems.
  • The introduction of regional bodies will assist some strategic issues but underestimates the difficulty in bringing together very different schools and local authorities. This may lead to another layer of bureaucracy and potential conflict.
  • The proposals to involve parents in the managing of the schools assumes that this is a role to which they aspire. It is currently difficult to get parents involved in schools whereas the focus must be on parents being in partnership with the school to support their children’s learning.

Seamus Searson added “The SSTA will be looking thoroughly at the document in the coming months to ensure the proposals meet the test of improving education. But one important ingredient missing from the proposals is the large Government investment needed to bring about this change. This next step will fall on hard ground as this cannot be delivered by moving the existing education resource around.”

Further Information from

Seamus Searson
General Secretary

0131 313 7300

16 June 2017