Scottish councils warn over rushed school reforms

Scotland’s local government body Cosla has raised concerns that the government’s ‘hasty’ changes to the country’s education system ‘could do irreparable damage for future generations’.

The caution comes ahead of the Scottish government summit on school reform and raising attainment, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) claiming it wants to ‘encourage school clusters and create new educational regions’.

Its pledge for the recent election promises to ‘extend to individual schools responsibilities that currently sit solely with local authorities, allocate more resources directly to headteachers and enable them to take decisions based on local circumstances’.

However, councillor Stephanie Primrose, Cosla's education spokeswoman, argued: "The aim of central government, local government and all those with an interest in young people is the same, we all have similar aspirations, we all want them to succeed.

"There is plenty to be celebrated within the Scottish education system and to proceed in a hasty manner could do irreparable damage for future generations. Right now, if a child needs extra support, the council is there for them with all the services and expertise that is required to make a real difference.

"We will improve attainment of children in poverty only by supporting the whole family. Councils are uniquely-placed to support every need of the child due, in no small part, to the expertise and professionalism of all their employees who make a difference to families every single day."

Deputy First Minister John Swinney commented: “Government is committed to working with partners across the board and drawing on their expertise to give Scotland's children the best possible chance in life".

He added: "We welcome the acknowledgement from Cosla that there is room for improvement in the system and we are drawing from the knowledge of teachers, pupils, local authorities, education experts, political leaders and others to look at how we can move forward together.

"The summit will also look at how we can best engage with communities and work with parents, community groups and others towards the common goal of raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

"We must go further and faster to make the substantial progress that is required during this parliamentary term to implement the mandate the government received at the election."

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