Forget the upheaval and leave education where it belongs

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Whilst not wanting to comment on the main, interesting but rather convoluted, thrust of the opinions put forward by Ross Martin in last week's edition (October 17), I do think it important to respond to one specific suggestion contained in his article.

Ross suggested the possibility of "education being taken out of local authority control".

Whilst this appeared to have been an afterthought, it is an issue which keeps coming up in discussions about the future of local government and the Scottish education system and therefore cannot go unchallenged.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and all 32 councils would oppose wholeheartedly the proposal to remove control of education from local government on both principle and practical grounds.

Education is a core public service which should remain under the control of locally accountable, directly elected representatives. We would argue very strongly that this accountability already comes through, and should remain with, local councils and not through total devolution to individual schools, new elected or appointed local education authorities, or centralisation under the Scottish Executive.

At a time when the Executive and local authorities are not just talking about, but are making positive moves towards, implementing integrated children's services, it is perverse to even think about hiving education off to a stand-alone education authority.

Education is a key element of an integrated approach to providing services for children and young people, tackling social exclusion and promoting a healthier and more stable society.

New community schools, bringing education services into closer working with social work, health and other services are just one of the manifestations of the new more integrated approach that is being developed.

Education needs to work more closely with other services and this can happen more easily within the existing structure, not through creating a new one with all its related upheaval and additional costs.

Rev. Ewan Aitken

Cosla education spokesperson

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