A suitable case for treatment?

26th March 2004 at 00:00
The HMI review of Braeview Academy (page three) makes depressing reading, not just for the school and its community but for the education authority and possibly the inspectorate as well. As MSPs begin to debate the proposed ministerial powers to intervene where schools and authorities have failed to act on HMI's recommendations, this is exactly the scenario that these powers are being summoned into existence to tackle. So this is the perfect opportunity to ask again: are such powers necessary?

The Braeview story may well be unusual: 10 unsatisfactory scores are unprecedented in an HMI report. But the speed of the school's decline also seems unprecedented. From being given a clean bill of health only three years ago, it has now been placed in intensive care. Either HMI got it badly wrong the first time round, or something dramatic indeed has happened in the school.

There will no doubt be plenty of ministerial satisfaction that this precisely illustrates the need for new legislative powers. Why did the authority and the school have to wait for an inspection before taking action?

But the fact is that the school and the authority are taking action - without any ministerial powers, as has happened before. Weak leadership can transform the fortunes of any organisation. The Braeview community must now fervently hope that the opposite is also true.

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