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Call for joint boards to take over schools

David Henderson reports from the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association's conference in Aviemore

Education should be taken out of local authority hands and passed to joint boards that would transcend council boundaries, David Eaglesham said in his general secretary's report.

National strategy was to devolve greater control to headteachers and individual schools while key aspects such as the curriculum and exams were under national control. "We simply do not need the level of bureaucracy under which we suffer," Mr Eaglesham said.

Young people did not necessarily benefit from having 32 different sets of local conditions and arrangements.

Mr Eaglesham said: "The so-called 'Brown money' which we hear of annually is an unknown quantity to most headteachers. The fog of war obscures the whole issue of finance, so much so that we now have Highland Council threatening the demise of all Advanced Higher classes.

"The lack of classes is down to the extra non-contact time from 2006 apparently, even though all of the McCrone agreement was fully costed and funded from 2001 onwards."

But Bruce Robertson, Highland's education director, who was a guest at the conference, doubted whether teachers would support such proposals.

"Councils have traditionally been very good employers and, when resources have been scarce, they have consistently looked after the interests of education - for example, during the Thatcher years," Mr Robertson said.

"Boards would not have that sort of flexibility and potentially could have higher costs for such things as personnel, payroll and legal services which would have to be paid for from the grant to a board."

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