SNP Education Bill will be “damaging to Scottish education” – Liberal Democrats

3rd February 2018

The SNP Government’s proposals for restructuring the governance of Scottish schools in order to improve the education of schoolchildren in Scotland came in for harsh criticism at the meeting of the Council’s Executive Committee on 31st January. A draft Response to the Government’s Consultation on the Education (Scotland) Bill was only approved after an amendment to strength it from Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown was accepted.

The Bill’s main themes include:

  1. Transfer of some key powers currently held by the Council to a “Regional Collaborative”
  2. A Headteachers’ Charter transferring powers to appoint staff from Councils to Headteachers
  3. Strengthening of the role of Parent Councils

Robert Brown is himself a former Depute Minister for Education and Young People. He said:

“To say the least, the SNP’s Education Bill has not been very favourably received by anyone – serious concerns have been expressed by Head teachers, Parent representatives and Councils. There are major issues about extra time and training pressures on Head teachers, extra paperwork, staff organisation and support, and lines of accountability in particular.

I believe that, far from improving schools, the Bill is potentially damaging to education – it takes away much of the democratic accountability of local Councils and replaces it by an incoherent and overlapping bureaucratic mishmash. The whole thing is driven by the centralising idea that SNP Ministers in Edinburgh know best what suits the needs of South Lanarkshire schools.

My amendment made it clear that the Council were not prepared to accept having a particular form of Regional oversight body imposed on them by the Scottish government. South Lanarkshire already works well with other Councils to share best practice and good ideas and we don’t need the complication of yet more legislation on how we operate here.

There are something like 2,000 less teachers – and far fewer classroom assistants and other support staff – in Scotland now than when the SNP came to power in 2007. Indeed at one stage the drop in teacher numbers was 4,000. This is the main reason why there are challenges in education. What we need is more funding for more teachers, not fiddling about with the bureaucracy. “

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