I WAS struck by the mixed messages that jumped out of the TESS, last week. First, "Executive forced to tighten belt" included reference to Scotland's last opted-out school, St Mary's Episcopal primary in Dunblane (the school in which I have worked for three years).
One-third of the Executive's education Bill is dedicated to the abolition of self-governing status in Scotland. St Mary's is a very high achieving school, with an excellent ethos and incredible support from the parents, yet we are being told that in a bid to "improve Scottish schools" the way St Mary's is run (with a board of management elected from parents and staff at the school) cannot be allowed.
Second, the article entitled "Parents should have more duties", said that 90 per cent of teachers believe parental involvement in their child's education is a major factor in improving schools.
My only response can be that if this is the case, why does the Executive see fit to remove the high parental involvement of the parents at St Mary's? Surely, there can beno higher involvement than actually running the school.
Farther down was an article about Summerhill whose educational techniques have been both praised and frowned upon for decades. This highlighted the difficulties for any school that dares to be different. Before issuing a notice of complaint against Summerhill, did David Blunkett visit the school to ascertain for himself the work that was being undertaken?
I suspect not, just as in St Mary's case the Scottish Minister for Education, Sam Galbraith, has not deemed it necessary to visit the school (despite being invited on numerous occasions), before forcing through a Bill which will inevitably turn the school on its head.
In the light of these three articles, I am once again disillusioned by the Scottish Executive's (and indeed Labour's) approach to education. The voices of teachers and parents are not being heard and anything different is seen as threatening.
St. Mary's Episcopal Primary School