No open and shut case for ministers

1st October 2004 at 01:00
It must have taken Scottish Executive officials many agonising hours and sleepless nights to come up with the dynamic new policy on school closures - or not. Despite parliamentary pressure and much local sound and fury, the status quo is to prevail (page three). This is hardly unexpected: no Education Minister in his or her right mind wants to become embroiled in the heat of battle on school closures. It did not require Peter Peacock to go to New Zealand, where his counterpart is so involved and therefore blamed for every decision, to confirm the folly of that approach. Local authorities have their uses.

That said, it is surprising that ministers intend to hold on to the powers they already have. If their general abstention is based on the argument that they cannot be in possession of all the local facts, why in these devolutionary times should they act as a "court of appeal" over the closure of remote, popular and Catholic schools? As the hierarchy has demonstrated in North Lanarkshire, recourse to the real courts is always available.

It is surely time for the Executive to accept that local decision-making should mean just that and put the ball where it belongs, in the authorities' court. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities should have another go at reaching agreement among its member councils on a national template. Highland's excellent "mothballing" approach, giving communities time to reinvigorate local schools, would be a good place to start.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now