Highland Council driving quality improvement in education
7th September 2017
Chair of the Highland Council's People Committee, Councillor Alasdair Christie, today questioned proposals for changes to the governance of schools, set out in the Scottish Government programme announced this week.
Speaking at today's Council meeting, Councillor Christie said: "The biggest risk to our goals for improving children's attainment in education is in the Scottish Government’s plans to dilute the role of Local Authorities. We are proud of our teachers and our schools, and proud of the quality of education in Highland Council. We are not complacent and always seek to improve, but there is no evidence that a new regional body will improve learning and teaching, or the educational outcomes of our young people. Highland schools should be managed in the Highlands, and not from Edinburgh."
He continued: "I believe that local democratic accountability must be at the heart of the delivery of Scottish education. In Highland, we are committed to continuous improvement in education, to achieve the best outcomes for children as part of an integrated children’s service.
"The Council considered the Scottish Government’s proposals at its meeting in June, and was concerned that they removed local democratic accountability for the delivery of education, and would impose new layers of bureaucracy, which would do nothing to support Head Teachers, improve educational performance or help close the attainment gap.
“Local government across Scotland has raised similar concerns, and I am extremely disappointed to see no evidence that these have been taken account of in the Government’s announced programme.
“The Highland Council has committed to work with Government to endeavour to influence these proposals in a more positive and constructive direction. We will continue to do that, and over the next few weeks we intend to issue a number of briefings and public statements on this issue."
The Scottish Government’s proposals for school governance are set out in a Next Steps report, published in June and available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/06/2941
Next Steps proposes only one model for the future governance of Scottish Education and suggests that these proposed arrangements constitute the only way to raise attainment for all and the only way to close the attainment gap.
The report proposes largely ‘back office’ support functions for local authorities. It does not provide well founded rationale for the proposed removal of the local authority from its current, democratically mandated strategic leadership and management role.
Elected Members of the Highland Council currently work closely and effectively with their schools and parent councils. They provide clear, strategic leadership to officers and have always demonstrated a high level of commitment to the quality of education provision for Highland communities.
The Council has a sound track record of innovative practice; e.g. the development of integrated services for children and families. Furthermore, the Highland Council can demonstrate clear and determined commitment to collaborative working with other Local Authorities in order to improve outcomes for pupils.
The proposed new governance structures indicate a centralisation of decision making regarding education, which will mean more bureaucracy for Headteachers, and will be unhelpful for parents, pupils, communities and schools.
Pilot gives access to more than 120 libraries - and 1.6 million books. A pilot for a single card that can be used in any library has been launched in the north east.
The Highland Council received two awards at last week's Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. One Award was in the "Process" Category for the Highland eDevelopment project and the second was in the "Place" category for the Nucleus Building in Wick.
The Highland Council is pleased to announce that the main phase of the work to construct the Kingussie Flood Alleviation Channel is now underway. The project is a joint venture between the Council and Pitmain Estate and is located on the Estate's land above the village of Kingussie.
The Highland Council achieved a 6% reduction in its year-on-year carbon emissions in 2016/17, equivalent to a saving of over 4,000 tonnes of CO2. In addition, thanks to a variety of energy efficiency measures implemented throughout the organisation, the Council saved almost £180k compared to the previous year, despite increasing energy costs.
Communities and developers will be invited to have their say in shaping a refreshed approach to dealing with developer contributions for developments across Highland. At today's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, members gave the go ahead for a six week public consultation on the Draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Guidance which will begin in early 2018.
Parent representatives from 206 Parent Councils across the Highland region have been invited to attend the Highland Parent Council Partnership conference which will be held on Saturday 18 Nov 2017 from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Guest speaker at the conference - to be held at Highland Council, Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness - will be John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.
The Highland Council have reviewed and updated the administrative procedures around miscellaneous and animal establishment licensing making it easier for people to access information and provide feedback. An online register of all applications is now published on the Council's website and the procedures are clear on how individuals or groups can raise concerns or object to applications for these types of licence.
The Highland Council remains on track to provide much-needed affordable homes for a growing population with a pledge in its Strategic Housing Plan 2018-2023 to approve 500 units each year of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for low cost home ownership. Members of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee today (Wednesday 8 November) had the opportunity to discuss the Housing Investment Plan for 2018-2023 and to reaffirm the council's commitment to deliver new homes in the Highlands.
Following the collapse of a 15 metre section of road at Soldiers Rock on the Knoydart peninsula late on Tuesday 24 October, work is progressing on repairing the landslip on the single track road. A full inspection of the affected road has been carried out and a Highland Council engineer will be on site on Wednesday this week to carry out preliminary work before detailed survey work is carried out on Friday.
Resident's from across the Highlands have provided positive feedback to the council's latest Citizen's Panel survey. Each year the panel of just over 2300 adults are asked for their views on the performance of the council and to provide information on their attitudes to a range of issues affecting them, their families and their neighbourhoods.
[Printer Friendly Version]