Bring on the 'champions'

29th June 2007 at 01:00
Commission calls for specialist teams to boost young people's literacy and numeracy skills

A "ZERO tolerance" approach to shortcomings in literacy and numeracy is the main focus of the long-awaited report from the education commission set up by Glasgow City Council.

Around 90 teachers will be deployed in "champion teams" of three across the city's 29 learning communities to develop numeracy and literacy in schools if the plans, published today, are put into practice.

"It is about winning the hearts and minds of every teacher in every classroom and persuading them that they have a duty to develop basic literacy and numeracy skills among young people," said Ronnie O'Connor, the city's outgoing director of education who chaired the commission, established two years ago.

It included headteachers, college principals, academics and others from the education and business communities, who were also asked to address fears that, although the city's education services were making progress with the bottom 20 per cent of pupils, the "top kids" were being missed.

Steven Purcell, the council leader, said an implementation group would be set up under Gordon Matheson, chair of the council's education committee, to focus initially on improving the leadership and management of Glasgow's schools and ensure the standard of learning and teaching was consistent.

In the medium term, the council plans to look at the commission's recommendations to create more specialisms in secondary schools - particularly around science and technology and the creative industries - and to set up a leadership academy for school staff.

Elected councillors and officials from across the council will be expected to become "ambassadors" for looked-after children, an idea that mirrors a scheme set up by the London borough of Barnet, where education champions (senior council officers) look after the interests of children in care.

Councillor Purcell said he would be looking for higher levels of funding for education from the Scottish Executive in recognition of the challenges facing the city because of its high levels of deprivation. He wants to see a formula along the same lines as the new health funding mechanisms, which changed following the Arbuthnott report.

The current weighting of 1 per cent, in recognition of social deprivation, was "almost nothing", he said.

But not every recommendation would require extra funding, Councillor Purcell acknowledged. "We want to see a greater self-awareness of the performance of learning and teaching in every school," he said. Education officers would be expected to focus more on quality management than curriculum development.

More details, page 4

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