Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve excellence and equity in education: governance review

Consultation on how the education sector is run, who should take decisions on the education of children and young people and how funding can be made fairer.

4. Empowering teachers, practitioners, parents, schools and communities

Teachers and schools

Children flourish in education systems where there are high levels of professionalism and where teachers, practitioners and schools are empowered with the autonomy and flexibility to make decisions. In Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective the OECD highlight that: 'Inherent in the principle of [Curriculum for Excellence] is the enhancement of the role that should be exercised by schools and teachers.' [1]

We want to see more decisions about school life being driven by schools themselves, starting with a presumption that decisions about children's learning and school life should be taken at school level. Local authorities have different relationships with their schools and empower headteachers and teachers in a variety of ways, notably via devolved school management. Devolved school management ( DSM) is essentially where local authorities pass control of a proportion of their education budgets to headteachers of secondary and primary schools or heads of early years establishments through detailed local DSM schemes which set out clear spending requirements. DSM statutory guidelines (revised in 2012) means that some management and funding decisions are already taken by headteachers at school level.

Currently, however, legal responsibilities for delivering education and raising standards in our schools sit largely with local authorities, not with the schools and teachers that teach our children and young people every day. We are committed to extending to schools responsibilities that currently sit with local authorities and to allocating more resources directly to headteachers to enable them to take decisions, based on local circumstances, to give all our children and young people the best chance of success.

Evidence shows that the quality of teaching and school leadership are the most important in-school factors in a child's outcomes. Investing in the professionalism and autonomy of our teaching profession means trusting teachers to make the best decisions for our children and young people and for our schools. That is why we are committed to empowering our teachers and schools and will ensure they have the flexibility and freedom to teach.

Question 4

What changes to governance arrangements are required to support decisions about children's learning and school life being taken at school level?

Question 5

What services and support should be delivered by schools? What responsibilities should be devolved to teachers and headteachers to enable this? You may wish to provide examples of decisions currently taken by teachers or headteachers and decisions which cannot currently be made at school level.

Children and young people, parents and wider communities

We know that when parents are fully involved in their child's learning, and in the life and work of their school, we see better outcomes for children, parents and schools. That is why we are committed to giving a stronger voice to parents and communities in our schools. Research from the Children and Young People's Commissioner in Scotland has also shown that the level of participation of children and young people within schools can have a significant impact on attainment, so empowerment matters for them too.

Children and parents are involved in school life in a variety of different ways, including through formal mechanisms such as parent councils and pupil councils and through formal and informal interactions with teachers, other professionals and schools. Schools and individual teachers work hard to develop effective relationships with children, parents and the wider community to support learning.

Our clear objective is to devolve decision making and funding to teachers, schools and communities and to open schools up and ensure that parents, the third sector, colleges, universities and employers can better support efforts to raise attainment and ensure that young people progress into positive destinations. The work being undertaken through Developing Scotland's Young Workforce is already making progress in this area but we are interested to hear what more can be done.

Question 6

How can children, parents, communities, employers, colleges, universities and others play a stronger role in school life? What actions should be taken to support this?

Early learning and childcare

Evidence shows us that quality early learning opportunities are fundamental to supporting children and young people to succeed in life. Increasing the provision of quality early learning and childcare is a key element of the Scottish Government's approach to raising attainment. Quality early learning opportunities make a significant and lasting difference to the attainment of children and young people, particularly the most vulnerable.

The early learning and childcare sector has traditionally had strong links with communities and parents. We are committed to further empowerment in early learning and childcare settings. As we consider the expansion of early learning and childcare we are open to innovative delivery approaches where they can add value. There may be specific opportunities to encourage expansion within the social enterprise sector, and to explore how community empowerment could encourage and develop community-led provision, particularly in remote and rural areas which face unique delivery challenges.

Question 7

How can the governance arrangements support more community-led early learning and childcare provision particularly in remote and rural areas?


Email: Tracey McRae, tracey.mcrae@gov.scot

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