Call for autonomy in CfE delivery

31st May 2013 at 01:00
Scottish schools could benefit from shift in governance, says business chief

Scottish heads and teachers should be given more control over the running of their schools and the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence, a senior business leader has told TESS.

Scotland is "ahead of the game" in how well its education system delivers for the economy and is strengthened by aspects of CfE, according to Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at employers' organisation the CBI.

But the "non-academic qualifications" aspects of CfE need to be embedded in the whole curriculum and all that the school does, he said. "The people who can really control that are teachers and headteachers on the ground, not the local education authority," Mr Carberry said.

His comments build on the CBI's report First Steps: A new approach to our schools, published last November. The report focused on the English system, but its central recommendations applied to the whole of the UK, he insisted.

When giving heads more power, it was crucial to put up "signposts" for them of what was important, Mr Carberry said. "Curriculum for Excellence is brilliant in as much as it offers some of those signposts," he said, and the challenges faced in England and Scotland were therefore very different.

England had already devolved power to heads, but some issues around inspection, the national curriculum and exam reform were "pulling in different directions", he said.

Heads in England have full power over their budget and staffing, while heads of academies also have freedom to decide on their school curriculum.

"The challenge for Scotland is to empower headteachers and maintain some of those signposts for them," he said.

Mr Carberry added that the role of the inspectorate should also be looked at, and that it should ensure that reports cover all aspects of CfE - without "just focusing on exam results".

But School Leaders Scotland general secretary Ken Cunningham warned that this was "not the time" for a debate on governance. "The principle of headteachers being supported locally by their local authority and their community and it being devolved as far as possible to community level is absolutely right," he said.

Mr Cunningham said that the Scottish education sector should not be distracted from the crucial task of fully embedding CfE. "In time, we should have a debate about what is the best governance model, but this is not the time," he added.

A spokeswoman for Education Scotland said inspections considered "key aspects of a school's work in ensuring and improving the quality of children and young people's learning, as well as exams, as it introduces Curriculum for Excellence".

"Giving headteachers and practitioners the support, advice and tools to develop and carry out self-evaluation is an important part of helping school improvement", she added.

Photo credit: Alamy

Original headline: Call for more autonomy in delivering CfE

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