'Full-service' tag worries council

28th August 1998 at 01:00
Ministers should drop the term "full-service schools" if they want the initiative to succeed, Michael White, director of education in Aberdeenshire, says. The council hopes to win Government backing for a pilot in Banff. Others are planned at Peterhead and Fraserburgh academies.

Mr White told a seminar at a Children in Scotland conference in Glasgow: "If you want to kill it dead in the water, call it a full-service school or keep painting it as an American idea. Donald Dewar (the Scottish Secretary) calls them New Deal schools but that's not the right term either."

Full-service schools, a concept developed in the United States, embrace a multitude of services for children and families, from health to social work, and use the school as their base. Mr Dewar is expected to announce several pilots next month as part of the Government attack on social exclusion.

But Mr White said the term "school" would turn off the very people it was designed to attract. Most support systems had failed disadvantaged families, many of whom had negative experiences of school. He preferred the term "centres" but admitted he had not yet found the correct name.

Mr White called for a new beginning in schools and harmony among different professions dealing with the same families.

"Schools on their own cannot look at the problems coming at them and guidance staff are drowning under referrals. Teachers who have been around for a long time are tackling the grandchildren of the same families they saw as young teachers and something has to be done to break into this. The education service is not a great advert for breaking the mould," he said.

Mr White believed there were more than enough resources among the different services if they were channelled more effectively to families in need. "We hope to build one or two centres from scratch and we are looking for a different kind of professional to go in there but we have not cracked the management or governance," he admitted.

Turf wars between competing services had yet to be overcome and full-service centres had also to address issues such as security, tightened as a result of the Dunblane shootings. Social work staff did not want some of their clients near pre-school children, Mr White said.

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