Heads need more muscle, says report

18th March 2011 at 00:00
Review calls for significant increase in range of school leaders' powers

Areport into devolved school management recommends giving heads greater powers over staff recruitment and development, special needs, and repairs and maintenance, TESS understands.

Education Secretary Michael Russell has been given the final report of the review of devolved school management guidelines, carried out by the former education director of Stirling, David Cameron.

But given the imminent dissolution of the Scottish Parliament before the Scottish elections, it is unlikely Mr Russell will have time to make a detailed response.

It will therefore fall to the next government to decide whether or not to adopt a range of recommendations, including the adoption of a national formula for the distribution of resources to schools and a revision of the 2006 regulations on devolved school management.

TESS understands the report supports the idea of schools working in clusters across the 3-18 curriculum, with responsibility for staffing, recruitment, and senior management structures devolved to each school partnership or "federation".

These groupings would require support from a business manager employed by each cluster and should seek to involve parents, local businesses and community representatives.

The proposed model appears to have parallels with that being adopted in East Lothian in August (see p12). It also reflects the approach of the Parliament's education committee report, which this week called for heads to be given more control over staffing issues (see p13).

Schools should be able to work on a stable, three-year budget, aligned to their improvement plan. That would go some way to meeting a call for five- year education budgets, from John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (TESS, 25 February).

The report is also understood to recommend that schools have control of funding for repairs and are allowed to employ contractors outwith councils' own direct labour organisations. That would be at odds with Mr Russell's views, who claims he has "never met a headteacher who has asked me for control over the choice of heating oil" (TESS, 4 March).

Headteacher associations and teacher unions are likely to offer a mixed reaction to the recommendations. School Leaders Scotland has long clamoured for a national funding formula for schools, but unions could baulk at heads having more power over "hire and fire".

If funding for additional support needs is distributed to schools, there would be no central resource to meet exceptional needs and schools would have to meet the high costs of external placements.


- Heads to have greater powers over the employment of staff, CPD, additional support for learning budgets, repairs and maintenance;

- more devolved funding to give schools greater autonomy on how they deliver the curriculum;

- greater accountability to the local community;

- school cluster model, covering pre-school to secondary, should become the norm and perhaps be employers of teachers;

- education authorities should adopt a national formula for resourcing schools.


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