Chapter 1: Introduction
The Fair Funding to Achieve Excellence and Equity in Education consultation invited views on the current funding system of education, and the principles and considerations for future funding arrangements, including national consistency, delegation of responsibility, accountability and reporting. It also covered the support required by headteachers under a more devolved funding approach.
The consultation ran from 15th June 2017 - 13th October 2017. The consultation paper contained 13 open ended questions [ 1].
Rocket Science UK Ltd was commissioned to analyse all written responses to the online consultation paper and any additional responses submitted to the Scottish Government in alternative formats such as letters or stand-alone documents. To complement this data, and gain a more detailed understanding of the views and opinions of headteachers, Rocket Science was also asked to conduct focus groups with headteachers and deputes across Scotland. This report summarises the key themes to emerge from the written responses and the focus group discussions.
1.1 Respondent profile
1.1.1 Written responses
A total of 85 written responses were received. Respondents were assigned to the following categories:
- Headteachers/teachers (19): This category comprises individual headteachers or teachers and eight representative bodies. Where 'headteachers/teachers' are referred to in this report, we mean this group.
- Parents (14): This group includes individual parents and parent councils. Throughout this report, this group are referred to as 'parents'.
- Local Government (25): This includes local authorities and representative bodies. Throughout this report, respondents in this category are referred to as 'local government' or 'local authorities'.
- Other organisations (19): other organisations that do not specifically represent teachers, parents, or local government but represent other views on the education sector; and
- Unassigned individuals (8): Respondents cou ld only be categorised by assessing the content of their written submissions. There were five submissions that did not include the information required to allocate them to a specific category.
The list of organisations responding to the consultation can be found in Appendix 1.
1.1.2 Focus groups with headteachers
Six focus groups, each lasting 90 minutes, were run in the following locations across Scotland:
27 th September 2017
2 nd October 2017
3 rd October 2017
4 th October 2017
5 th October 2017
9 th October 2017
Overall, these focus groups were attended by 24 headteachers and 1 depute from 15 different local authority areas. 10 attendees were from primary schools, with another 10 from secondary schools. The remaining attendees included headteachers covering early years education, a 'cluster' of nursery, primary and secondary schools, and a 'virtual school' for looked after children.
This section outlines our methodology for research, analysis and reporting.
1.2.1 Written responses
Rocket Science drew down the written responses submitted through Scottish Government's online consultation portal 'Citizen Space'. This was then uploaded in NVivo. Other submissions such as emails and letters were also uploaded into NVivo to provide a complete picture of all written responses.
NVivo is an online qualitative analysis programme that enables the coding of responses into categories of key messages. All messages and viewpoints expressed in each written submission were coded using an NVivo framework. Once all responses were coded, the coding framework was reviewed and reorganised to bring together the key messages. NVivo then allows filtering by message and subgroup to enable accurate and detail analysis.
1.2.2 Focus Groups
Focus groups participants were recruited by Scottish Government through School Leaders Scotland ( SLS) and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland ( AHDS). SLS and AHDS asked their members to volunteer for participation in the focus groups. 36 headteachers volunteered to participate, with 25 actually attending (24 headteachers and 1 depute).
A topic guide for the focus groups was created based on the consultation document. The topic guide can be found in Appendix 2.
Two Rocket Science staff attended each focus group: one facilitated the focus group, while the other took notes. These notes were then used to pull together the main messages and quotes used in this report.
This report summarises the key messages from the written responses to the discussion paper and focus groups. It is important to note the following:
- Not all respondents covered all the key messages. This report provides an indication of the number of respondents that referred to each of the issues discussed;
- In the analysis of responses, information about respondent type is given where it is evident that certain perspectives are more prevalent amongst one or more respondent group. Where respondent group is not indicated, this is because the perspectives raised in responses did not differ significantly between different respondent categories.
- Care should be taken when interpreting the frequency of an issue being raised by respondents. Some issues were raised more frequently because specific questions were asked about them;
- As the focus groups were attended by a small number of headteachers, these findings should not be treated as representative of the views of headteachers across Scotland. Instead, the focus groups provide additional insights into headteachers' thinking, and indicates some potential areas for further investigation; and
- We were unable to determine which headteachers attended a focus group and submitted a written response. Therefore, the overall number of headteachers represented in the consultation as a whole is not known.
Throughout this report the main focus is on exploring the qualitative views submitted by respondents. However, in considering the findings of the analysis, it is important to bear in mind that views gathered through an open consultation exercise cannot be regarded as representative of the views of the population as a whole. Rather, they are the views of people and organisations who were aware of the consultation, have an interest in the subject under discussion, and have the time, opportunity and capacity to take part.
When discussing the prevalence of the views and opinions expressed, the following terms are used to reflect the numbers responding:
- 'Few' means between 5 and 9%
- 'Some' means between 10 and 19%
- 'Many' means between 20 and 49%
- 'Most' or 'majority' means 50 to 74%
- 'Large majority' or 'broad agreement' means 75 to 89%
- Consensus means 90%+
These terms apply when we refer to all respondents and to the individual respondent groups defined in section 1.1.1. It is important to note that, generally, where points are listed in this report, they are listed in order of frequency: the point most frequently mentioned by respondents is listed first, the second most frequently is listed second, and so on.
This report provides an accurate and comprehensive summary of the views expressed by respondents. It does not provide policy recommendations. The views and opinions presented are those of respondents and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Government.
1.2.4 Report structure
This report is structured as follows:
- Chapter 2 contains views on the current funding arrangements. It includes views on the advantages and disadvantages of the current system and the benefits and barriers presented by devolved school management ( DSM) approaches;
- Chapter 3 outlines the views on future systems of funding, namely where and how funding should be targeted, allocated and managed;
- Chapter 4 describes responses to questions about the support headteachers require and the systems needed to implement change;
- Chapter 5 outlines other issues raised by respondents that were not covered by questions 1 to 7 of the consultation. In practice, this meant references to the approach of extending the Headteachers' Charter.
- Appendix 1 includes the list of organisations that responded to the written consultation.
- Appendix 2 presents the topic guide used at the headteacher focus groups.