Autonomy points the way ahead

5th January 2007 at 00:00
Fred Forrester 58 North Larches, Dunfermline

I agree with your contention (Editor's Comment, December 22) that the quality of education provided by any school derives from a combination of factors, including standards of teaching and the commitment of parents. The school leadership is also crucial. Many of the best performing schools, including Jordanhill, benefit from outstanding leadership.

However, you too readily dismiss the issue of school governance.

While Jordanhill is a pleasant part of Glasgow, its economic status, as measured by house prices and other indicators, is behind that of the western suburbs of Aberdeen, most parts of East Renfrewshire and many parts of Edinburgh. The school's X factor must be its self-governing status within the state education system.

I note with interest that the "manifesto" produced recently by the Headteachers' Association of Scotland calls for secondary schools to have a higher degree of auto-nomy, and it is clear that many secondary heads would like the degree of authority and accountability to the parent body that Paul Thomson has at Jordanhill.

I do not think that the Jordanhill model will be extended throughout Scotland, but there is certainly something to be learned from it, especially if greater autonomy was accompanied by the weakening of the post-coded delivery of educational quality.

Education authorities do not have to wait for a policy lead from the Scottish Executive. Were the political will there, they could themselves reform secondary education along the lines I am suggesting. In the central belt of Scotland, there is a crying need for such reform.

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