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East Lothian shifts powers to heads in 'community partnerships'

East Lothian councillors have confirmed they will not go ahead with proposals to put their schools under the control of community trusts - one of the most radical measures considered by local authorities in recent years (TESS, November 12).

Instead, they voted last week to delegate more powers to headteachers to make curricular and budget decisions at a local level.

They also agreed to move towards operating schools on a "community partnership" basis, with parent councils encouraged to involve a wider representation from the local community.

Schools will be encouraged to be more "outward-facing" and flexible in the way they respond to their local communities. Local people with an interest in East Lothian schools will have greater access to information and be more involved in their evaluation and improvement agendas.

Schools will be encouraged to develop their capacity for self-evaluation, but the council will maintain its ability to intervene and support any schools where there are problems with the quality of education.

In response to its consultation exercise, the council will explore the allocation of more funding to school clusters to encourage schools to operate in a more collective manner.

Council leader Paul McLennan said: "This is a really exciting new departure for education in East Lothian. Community partnership schools will allow us to harness local knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to deliver education in a way that meets local needs and wishes at the same time as delivering the national education agenda."

Peter MacKenzie, cabinet member with responsibility for education and children's services, added: "It really does take a community to raise a child, and we believe that community partnership schools will be a hugely positive development for young people, education and our communities."

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