Warning to Swinney over powers for schools

John Swinney at the party conference.

John Swinney at the party conference.

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Scotland’s largest teaching union has warned John Swinney against devolving too many education decisions to the level of schools.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) called on the Education Secretary to ensure that a review of school governance did not force teachers to make decisions “about the wrong things”.

Addressing an event in Glasgow, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said a re-assessment of the relationship between the Scottish Government, councils and schools was not unwelcome. But he warned that Swinney’s review should focus on what will make a difference in the classroom and not issues such as who runs the staff pay roll or school maintenance, which he said would be a “diversion”.

Flanagan said: “John has quite rightly ruled out the idea of the academies or grammar schools. We do need to think a little more clearly about exactly how we do support schools.

“The line that John has been using on a number of occasions is that he wants decision making to be made at the level of the school. Well you could actually use that same line for academies, because academies took decision making away from local authorities.

“So it needs to be more than just decision making at the level of schools, there needs to be some wraparound support which actually ensures that schools don’t have to make decisions about the wrong things.

“That they are empowered to talk about what works in the classroom and what makes a difference in the classroom.”