Monday, 4 March 2013

By Diverse Means

Today the Commission on School Reform publishes its report on improving Scottish Education.

The title - By Diverse Means – is a welcome acknowledgement of a key component required to improve our education – diversity of practice. 

Whilst more time is needed to assess the detail of the report here are a few initial responses along with consideration of implications for two key current educational issues in Edinburgh:  the proposed closure of Castlebrae Community High School and the pressure on primary one places.

  1. The report as a whole is a welcome contribution to the debate
  1. The call for a diversity of education is welcome and, if implemented, will contribute to problem solving and raising standards. Recommendation 14
  1. The recognition that schools should have greater autonomy and be subject to less centralised bureaucracy will be widely welcomed by parents and schools.  Recommendations 20-22
  1. Comments encouraging the focus of talented teachers to commit to disadvantaged areas are welcome.   Effective schemes to achieve this have a role to play in such schools where turning around performance has been elusive in EdinburghRecommendation 8
  1. The call for an independent review of Education Scotland is welcome.  Recommendation 23
  1. a reduction in regulation and bureaucracy.  Instead there are recommendations for the setting up of extra bodies – perhaps worthy in themselves – but which may have the cumulative effect of reducing autonomy and front line resources.
  1. the excessive number of layers of governance and management is barely addressed.

There are, however, gaps.  We would have like to have seen recommendations calling for

Inevitably, the introduction of diversity in education might have given more options for the improvement in Castlebrae School, currently faced with closure, at an earlier stage. 

It is not clear that the report helps with one of the major educational problems facing Edinburgh Council, namely responding to the pressure on primary one places at oversubscribed schools in the city.  Certainly flexibility in regulations would give more room to manoeuvre.

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