Exploring Alternatives: School Improvement (Part 1)

In this- the last of a series of posts which consider alternatives to current delivery of educational authority statutory obligations – I will explore the category of
school improvement. Given that this is likely to be one of the longest posts in the series I’ll split it up into three parts.) This is part 1.

The following obligations could be grouped within this category:

  1. Education authority’s annual statement of improvement objectives
  2. Raising Standards
  3. National Priorities
  4. School development plans
  5. Review of school performance
  6. Inspection of education authority
  7. Integrated Children’s Services

There is such a degree of overlap between many of these obligations that it will be difficult to consider them in isolation. For example – the requirement of an authority to prepare and submit an Integrated Children’s Services Plan cannot be separated from the Education authority’s requirement to produce a Service Improvement Plan (annual statement of improvement objectives).

In a similar vein, education authority obligations in respect of National Priorities clearly sets out what an authority must do, which will, in turn, influence the planning process.

The Review of School Performance links with National Priorities through the need to report on such things as attainment and examination results , which in turn links with Raising Standards. It is worth quoting again the
Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000
section on Review of School Performance:

“(1) An education authority shall from time to time, after consulting such bodies as appear to the authority to be representative of teachers and parents within their area and giving such persons within that area as appear to the authority to have an interest in the matter an opportunity to make their views known, define and publish, as respects quality of education provided, measures and standards of performance for the schools managed by them; and different measures and standards may be so defined for different categories of such schools.

(2) An education authority shall, as respects each school managed by them, from time to time review the quality of education which the school provides; and if, having regard to the measures and standards of performance for the time being defined by them under subsection (1) above and relevant to the school, they conclude in any such review that the school is not performing satisfactorily they shall take such steps as appear to them to be requisite to remedy the matter.” (my emboldening)

I think it’s important here to distinguish between Review of School Performance and Raising Standards

Raising Standards within the 2000 Act clearly sets out what authorities obligations are:

” An education authority shall endeavour to secure improvement in the quality of school education which is provided in the schools managed by them; and they shall exercise their functions in relation to such provision with a view to raising standards of education.”

A quality assurance model – which many authorities have gone for – would not appear to be sufficient in itself to satisfy the legislation i.e. there must be a means to improving education. In the next part of this post I’ll explore how these obligations might be delivered in an alternative manner.