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Don't make a help into a hindrance

Your article "Uphill battle to keep armed forces children covered" (News focus, 28 June) provided an excellent summary of the changes facing UK forces and, consequently, the problems that many Scottish schools with a high turnover of students will encounter. It is clear that the conference reviewed in the article set out to explore those difficulties in an effort to help schools and local authorities to manage the situation in the best possible way.

Similarly, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) has pulled together an additional How Good is Our School? document, ostensibly to support schools. The Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland has made representations to ADES about this, not because we have a different view about the workload and challenges involved but because we believe that having a document for armed services children with its own success criteria runs the risk of creating an unnecessary additional administrative burden for schools. We also believe that the Getting it Right for Every Child policy provides the framework for supporting all children and that singling out a particular group for different treatment, monitoring or reporting cuts across that agenda.

We have engaged with ADES on this point and were reassured, to some degree, by the response that How Good is Our School? was designed to be a useful support for people working in this area and not to create additional ways to hold people to account. Further, they noted that if it is not found to be helpful then it will not be used. We hope individual local authorities take this approach, allowing schools to decide whether or not the document is a helpful aide, and resist the temptation to turn it into an additional workload demand and accountability measure.

Greg Dempster

General secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland

scotletters@tess.co.uk.

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