William Eichler 06 January 2017

Union defends ‘democratic’ role of councils in education

Maintaining appropriate democratic accountability at the local level is key to education service delivery, says Scotland’s largest education union as they warn against ‘discredited’ academy model.

The deputy first minister, John Swinney MSP, launched a governance review last September into how Scotland’s education system is run. He said the principle at the heart of the review was: ‘Decisions should be taken at school level.’

The reviewed closed today, and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) welcomed signs from the Scottish government that it would not remove education from local authority control and would not adopt the ‘discredited academy or free schools model’.

Commenting on the governance review, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: ‘The EIS would express caution about the capacity of schools, and the system generally, to cope with a possible pace and reach of change which might induce an unwelcome element of instability to service delivery.

‘It is essential that sufficient time is taken to make the correct decisions and to prepare for changes, rather than rushing to judgment and implementation simply to meet political rather than educational imperatives.’

Mr Flanagan defended the principle of delivering education through council-maintained schools, arguing the current system meant there was democratic accountability.

‘Recent tensions between national and local government have led some to question whether the current model of delivery through local authorities is the best means of delivering education at a local level,’ he said.

‘It could be argued, however, that the checks and balances which exist between the different layers of government is an important aspect of a pluralist approach to democracy.’

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