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Highland Council discusses education governance

14th December 2017

Highland Councillors considered Scottish Government's proposals for changes to the management of schools at today's meeting of the Council.

The Scottish Government is proposing new legislation on education, which would include a Headteachers Charter, placing even more responsibility and accountability for the running of schools on Headteachers, with other responsibilities passing to a new collaborative organisation covering Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Argyll and Bute as well as Highland.

Senior leaders expressed concern about the centralisation of key education functions, and the loss of local checks and balances. There are concerns that the proposals could lead to tensions between different parts of the education system, and the fragmentation and isolation of schools from other services for children. Additional concerns highlighted the lack of detail regarding the resourcing of the new structures, as well as the additional management burdens that would fall on schools.

After the meeting, Alasdair Christie, Depute Leader of Highland Council, said: "Councils have been involved in detailed discussions with Government about these radical proposals since June. While limited progress has been made, we remain concerned about the Government’s continual centralisation agenda, and about the additional workload that will fall on Headteachers.

"The Government argues that radical, structural change is needed and that the current system is too complex. The Council believes these proposals do not simplify the current arrangements and no evidence has been produced that they will improve attainment in our schools. In fact, they would introduce new layers of bureaucracy, confuse responsibility for the management of schools, and remove local and democratic accountability."

He added: “Highland Council is committed to working with Headteachers to drive school improvement and reduce bureaucracy. We welcome collaboration to share expertise and resources, but we do not believe that new formal, structures are necessary which remove the say in our children’s education away from Highland.

“This matter is of the greatest importance to the education of children and young people in the Highlands. We shall be writing to all parents and teachers about this, early in the new year. We will encourage them to read these proposals, and to send in a response to Government before the end of January deadline."

Education Governance Proposals

The Scottish Government published Education Governance: Next Steps in June of this year. It can be found at

This document sets out the case for radical changes to the roles, responsibilities and legal duties of Headteachers, Parents, Local Councils and National bodies such as Education Scotland.

In June of this year, the Council agreed to work with Government, including through CoSLA, the Northern Alliance and other forums, to endeavour to influence these proposals in a more positive and constructive direction. This activity has helped achieve some changes in Government thinking, including that the new Regional Collaboratives should be authority-led, and not managed through Education Scotland.

On 7 November, the Scottish Government published a further consultation document on the proposals, ahead of intended legislation to enshrine them in law. This is entitled: Empowering Schools A Consultation On The Provisions Of The Education (Scotland) Bill (available at

This new consultation runs until 30 January 2018.


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