Committee calls for head teachers to be given more autonomy

14/03/2011

Head teachers should be given more autonomy if the quality of teaching and leadership in Scottish state schools is to improve, according to a report published today by the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee.

The report brings together two short inquiries carried out by the committee over the last year on local authority funding of education and children’s services and the future structure of state schools.

Acknowledging major strengths in Scottish education and children’s services, the committee believes there is no room for complacency and welcomes a further inquiry into the issues. It stresses the importance of maximising the quality and leadership in schools by allowing head teachers to provide an appropriate level of challenge for staff.

The committee also agrees that continuous improvement in teaching and leadership quality is central to raising attainment and achievement in Scottish schools. The committee also argues that the interests of children should be the main factor in considering any proposals for structural change.

Committee Convener Karen Whitefield MSP said: "These short inquiries were an opportunity for us to ask fundamental questions about what kind of education and children’s services Scotland wants and needs, and how they should be structured and funded.

"Our evidence demonstrated there is little appetite in Scotland for any of the more radical alternatives such as those currently available in England, Swedish free schools or the US charter schools.

"However, we also heard that real improvements could be made by concentrating on maximising the quality of teaching and of leadership in schools. We hope that our successor committee will pursue this with the next parliament."

The committee called for a wider debate in the next session of the Parliament about the role of local authorities in relation to education and children's services.

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