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Don't turn schools into 'nimbies', government is warned

Too much power for headteachers will set schools against each other, fears national agency

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Too much power for headteachers will set schools against each other, fears national agency

Devolving more power to schools runs the risk of creating a competitive environment blighted by “nimbyism”, according to a national agency.

A document released today backs moves to give headteachers greater responsibilities – but warns against the dangers of going too far and inadvertently pitting schools against each other.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) said: “In devolving more power to schools, it is suggested that there is much more likelihood of accusations of ‘nimbyism’ and promoting competition and protectionism amongst schools and that this would not be desirable if the Scottish government’s ambition is to create the most efficient education system overall."

The body, in a submission to the national school governance review, said change was needed to address “inconsistent” support for teachers and pupils around Scotland and “unjustifiable variations” between local authorities in their “willingness and ability” to meet educational requirements.

The GTCS called for heads to have “more direct ownership” over appointment and deployment of staff, as well as greater freedom in deciding how to spend money on driving up attainment.

But other responsibilities “might best not be devolved to headteachers”, including placing requests, deployment of support staff, holiday patterns and school opening hours.

At the launch of the governance review in September, education secretary John Swinney said: “Our guiding principle for the way our schools are run is simple. Decisions should be taken at school level.”

But the Scottish government has repeatedly distanced itself from education reform in England. Ministers have stressed that they do not want a return to grammar schools or to emulate the academies system, which has allowed schools south of the border to opt out of local government control while still being funded by the state.

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