'We would wish to build on its success'

8th December 2000 at 00:00
Stirling Council's director of children's services, Gordon Jeyes, told TES Scotland: "I am very aware of what parents in the community have achieved. The school has been refurbished and the extent of parent partnership is extremely impressive.

"Children's services would not wish to act in any way that would undermine parental involvement once the school returns to local authority stewardship.

"The school is clearly popular. We would wish to build on that success, not least through local quality assurance checks, challenging and endorsing as appropriate. It is good for a school to have local quality assurance. The local authority has a role to challenge and improve schools.

"Once the Scottish Executive sets the date (for St Mary's to come under Stirling's control), the process will take some time because of land transfers and so on, and it will be difficult against the background of a lack of parental trust.

"I don't think we can convince the parents except by our actions, by providing a good service. The headteacher will be abl to operate in a network of schools rather than on an island.

"Their attainment levels are satisfactory but our exam levels are also very good and we work constantly to make them better.

"I fully understand the parents' pride and their involvement in the school, which we will not do anything to damage, but there is no school in Scotland which can't be improved.

"St Mary's will be able to retain its current resourcing levels. We are lean in central management, with the education part of children's services taking only 2.5 per cent of the education spend. Devolved school management is about freedom and St Mary's will retain 83 per cent of its allocated budget.

"I am aware of the possibility of legal action. In the meantime, however, any debate of the underlying principles is solely a matter for manifestos.

"This is not a party political matter and it is important to note that of all the major political parties, only the Tories are backing St Mary's in its campaign. In other words, the nation has made up its mind."

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