Dutton bids to sideline councils

23rd July 1999 at 01:00
A FORMER leading member of the directorate and adviser to the previous government wants the Scottish Parliament to consider removing education from the control of local politicians.

Ian Dutton, who was treasurer of the Association of Directors of Education, was called in to act as a consultant to the Scottish Office on opted-out schools after his retirement as director in the Borders. Now he says the Parliament should set up an inquiry into the management and administrative needs of the education service.

Mr Dutton insists he is not calling for an end to education authorities or for a resurgence of opting out. "Schools don't want to operate in isolation," he told The TES Scotland. "They want to be part of a corporate whole but one which is supportive of what they are doing."

He believes education should continue to be locally managed possibly along the lines of Health Service trusts, which have a balanced membership of education professionals and local interests. He suggests this would ensure education was controlled by one body "which would have only one function with one focus and one locus."

In a letter to The TES Scotland (page two), Mr Dutton criticises the "annual competition" for funds against other services, which is often dependent on the outcome of local political rivalries. He also chides central council departments such as those providing financial and legal services, whose decisions affect schools but which do not understand how schools work.

Speaking later to The TES Scotland, he suggested local councillors may have had their day when it comes to the big decisions.

"I find it difficult to think of any initiative which came from local politicians in my time that proved to be of any significant value," Mr Dutton said.

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