E.1. The Education Governance Review consultation (Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve Excellence and Equity - A Governance Review) ran from 13 September 2016 to 6 January 2017. The document contained 17 open-ended questions.
E.2. A total of 1,154 submissions were received comprising 382 organisations and 772 individuals. Additionally, almost 700 people attended the publically held events.
E.3. The aim of the analysis is to present the wide range of views offered. The responses were examined using a qualitative thematic approach and the key points from the analysis are summarised here.
Review of current governance system
E.4. There was widespread support for the current governance system and an apprehension towards further change within the system - there is 'no need to fix something that is not broken'.
E.5. Current governance arrangements were not seen as a barrier for improvement and that changing them was not expected to address the deep-seated issues that get in the way of achieving excellence and equity for all. Overall, respondents tended to say that the case for significant changes in governance had not been made.
E.6. Generally, respondents advocated for improvements to concentrate on processes rather than structures (often citing the OECD for support). Specifically, respondents thought that budget cuts and staffing issues were the two key barriers for improvement.
E.7. In terms of governance, respondents highlighted the following as areas for improvement:
- Promoting greater use of joined-up approaches at national, authority, schools and practitioner levels.
- A lack of consistency in regards to school devolution across local authorities.
- A desire for greater control at a school level over their staff.
National Functions and Bodies
E.8. Respondents generally felt that the current breadth and depth of national functions was sufficient. This was emphasised by organisations in particular.
E.9. Many respondents saw the current level of devolution to local authorities as positive. In fact, many saw it as a strength that current governance arrangements allow for a degree of local knowledge to be implemented.
E.10. Organisations, in particular, saw the role of current national bodies as supportive and necessary.
E.11. There was, however, a general sense that there is scope to clarify and align the roles of all agencies to establish whether they are all still 'fit for purpose'.
E.12. There was strong opposition against the uniform establishment of educational regions, particularly from local authorities, but also from schools, agencies, parent councils and individuals.
E.13. The primary criticisms revolved around an increase in unnecessary bureaucracy and a loss of local accountability, as well as a general weakening of democratic representation.
E.14. Overall, respondents would welcome greater clarity around the rationale for creating regions, in particular, what would the benefits be of the new structure.
E.15. Should educational regions be created, the top three factors mentioned by respondents to consider when establishing those were: geography/distance, affluence and demographic distribution of the population.
E.16. Should educational regions be created, there was overall agreement that the new regional arrangements could be used to address the differences between local authorities and their relationships with schools.
E.17. There was a general sense that cluster working was being done proactively already by groups of schools who viewed this as helpful.
E.18. There was recognition that a more formal process in the right circumstances could lead to efficiencies in the system.
E.19. There was a wide range of possible services for clusters mentioned. The most common ideas referred to were support services ( e.g. Additional Support Needs, English as an Additional Language, psychology provision), extra-curricular activities, and a bank of support staff.
School and teacher empowerment
E.20. There was a general sense, from all types of respondents, that current levels of devolution of responsibility were adequate. The Devolved School Management ( DSM) scheme was highlighted as a particular strength of the system.
E.21. If change was to occur, the most frequent suggestions revolved around staffing and budgetary control.
E.22. There was a strong emphasis on not increasing the workload and burden on schools and teachers. Governance changes were assumed to bring with them additional levels of bureaucracy.
E.23. Overall, respondents agreed that some schools were already working collaboratively within and between schools. However, some believed that it was not enough.
E.24. The issues hindering greater collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners were related to resource limitations, primarily lack of time and money.
Parental and community empowerment
E.25. Across all responses, there was general agreement that parents on the whole were well engaged with their child's school and that they were adequately represented under current arrangements, though a minority voiced issues around a lack of communication.
E.26. The main barrier to improvement of parental involvement revolved around a lack of participation from some parents, with certain demographics traditionally avoiding involvement in parent council activities.
E.27. A lack of diversity was cited within parent councils. Resolving this issue was seen as related less to governance and more to encouraging participation from under-represented groups.
E.28. The balance of support was against devolving a greater range of responsibilities to schools, for fear this would create excessive bureaucracy, bring too much risk to school level and distract from leading teaching and learning. However, a minority of respondents did express the wish that schools should have more flexibility, particularly in the fields of procurement, and staffing.
E.29. In terms of funding, there was a belief that funding should take account of Additional Support Needs ( ASN), measures of deprivation and the particular challenges to provision in both rural and deprived urban areas.
E.30. There was a lack of consensus in regards to the future direction of a potential funding formula. There was a significant group of respondents who stated that funding should follow the child, particularly in the case of ASN or personal circumstances (deprivation). Others cautioned against a total application of this principle, saying that less popular schools may lose out, and the result may be a transfer from deprived to affluent areas. It was also noted that each child has base costs which should be taken into account before additional funding was added. In addition, it was claimed that rural schools would have large costs for staffing and building relative to the number of pupils.
E.31. There were conflicting views around current accountability arrangements, with no consensus as to how the current system could be improved. Ideas provided for improvement were diverse.
E.32. There was overall agreement, however, that paperwork should be reduced and some questioned the need for two bodies conducting inspections in regards to early learning.
Additional Support Needs
E.33. There was a general consensus that ASN should remain at a higher level of governance than the individual school.
E.34. If ASN provision was to be shifted to individual schools, respondents stated that specific challenges would need to be met in relation to budget, staffing, collaboration, skills proliferation and resourcing. There was a particular concern in regards to the loss of "economies of scale" that current arrangements provide.
E.35. With regard to ASN, respondents overall felt that the current education system would benefit from greater resourcing and joined-up working under current governance arrangements, rather than a change in responsibilities to individual schools.
Email: Daniel Waddell
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House