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Joint management for clusters

A FURTHER radical shake-up in school organisation is on the cards in Glasgow if a pilot project succeeds, writes David Henderson.

The project aims to co-ordinate staffing, curriculum development and administration through local clusters of pre-school, primary and secondary schools.

Councillors yesterday were set to approve the adventurous scheme based on Eastbank and St Mungo's academies in the east end. Community education, psychologists and other support services will also be involved.

The one-year pilot, called Learning Communities, is due to begin in August. An existing headteacher from each cluster will take over as community principal to co-ordinate the initiative and will be supported by a bursar on a salary of around pound;26,000. All teacher staffing will be pooled and reallocated based on pupil numbers. Absence cover will also be run centrally.

A key element is to reduce the administrative burden on teachers and free them to focus on their core task, according to George Gardner, depute director of education.

Bursars will be in charge of a collective budget of around pound;6 million and, backed by new technology, will handle administration, finance and property. Bureaucracy such as placing requests, school letting, bursaries and footwear and clothing grants will fall to them.

Mr Gardner said: "In effect, the learning communities pilot is seen as the next step in the evolution of devolved school management. It parallels the current Government initiative in establishing new community schools. The prime focus is to determine the extent to which a family of schools can work together to offer a coherent education for children from birth to 18."

Tom Burnett, head of St Mungo's said, "It's a good idea and I'm all for it. Glasgow clearly has a problem in certain areas in raising attainment and levels of attendance."

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