Councils urged to share power

Report on the School Leaders Scotland annual conference in Cumbernauld
21st November 2008, 12:00am

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Councils urged to share power

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Teachers should model for their pupils what it is to be "confident individuals" by relying more on their own judgment and less on central direction, according to the Education Secretary.

Speaking at the School Leaders Scotland annual conference in Cumbernauld last week, Fiona Hyslop stressed the need for a change in culture in Scottish education if A Curriculum for Excellence was to be successful. They had to move away from "dependence on central direction" towards "independence and trust in professional judgement", she told the assembled secondary headteachers and deputes.

"If we want our children to become confident individuals then they must see that confidence demonstrated by teachers," she said.

Ms Hyslop also warned teachers not to think the new qualifications, when they came into being, were the "be all and end all". If teachers wanted national qualifications to cease to be the "fundamental driver" - and instead for qualifications to follow the curriculum - they would have to be careful not to fall into that trap, she warned.

Ms Hyslop went on to stress that local authorities must learn to share power by "fully recognising headteachers as an integral part of their leadership teams".

Meanwhile, an education director said school shows and sporting events should not be optional extras but "up there with literacy, numeracy, and health and well-being".

North Lanarkshire Council's executive director for learning and leisure, Christine Pollock, said the authority had "pushed out the boat and upped the ante" by placing art and enterprise on an equal footing with academic achievement in its latest education strategy, Experiences to Last a Lifetime.

Delegates supported the policy in theory but were unsure how to deliver such a varied timetable in practice. They would need additional funding, and disclosure regulations would be an obstacle, they felt.

Incoming president of SLS, Carole Ford, head of Kilmarnock Academy, told the audience a one-hour trip to the Dick Institute opposite her school had required an hour's paperwork beforehand.

However, Ms Pollock's words chimed with those of Ms Hyslop, who told SLS not to underestimate the willingness of the wider community to support schools.

  • School Leaders Scotland has voted unanimously to allow all school leaders to apply for membership. Previously, only heads or deputes could join the association, but it will now be open to faculty heads and principal teachers, among others.
  • Scottish Borders Council and HMIE could have mitigated some of the negative headlines following headteacher Irene Hogg's suicide if they had communicated better with the media, the SLS conference heard.
    • In a presentation on the impact of the media on education, TESS news editor Elizabeth Buie suggested that few people believed Ms Hogg had committed suicide solely because of a poor inspection, but that a lack of further information had led to HMIE being given the full blame.

      For full presentation: www.tes.co.ukscotland.

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