Democracy works locally

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
I read with interest Danny McCafferty's comment (TESS, January 12) on the role of local authorities in education in Scotland. However, may I take issue with his assertion that only local authorities have the democratic accountability to represent communities and therefore Scotland's schools?

There are two Scottish state schools which are wholly funded by taxpayers' money, which are not managed by local authorities and which are fully accountable to elected representatives. These are the self-managing schools of Jordanhill in Glasgow and St Mary's in Dunblane.

There could not be greater accountability than occurs in these two schools, where management resides with elected managing boards. The parents and staff elect their respective representatives, who are subsequently answerable to these parentsstaff. This is democracy in practice at local level - the school.

Morover, with the acceptance and implementation of devolved school management, is not the logical conclusion that all schools should ultimately manage themselves, making better use of funds unallocated by local authorities under devolved management and enabling all decisions to be taken within the schools rather than outside the schools? The Scottish establishment, of course, has a vested political interest in local authorities retaining control of education, but if we care more about the quality of education being delivered to our children than who controls education, then we should at least question the status quo.

There are no perfect answers to the problems which beset Scottish education but we at least owe it to our children to ensure that all options are examined.

Alastair McCulloch Chairman, board of management St Mary's Episcopal Primary School, Dunblane

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