In Part 1 of this post I set out some of the obligations facing Local Authorities in relation to school improvement.
In this, the second part, I’ll explore some of the alternatives which might be considered.
I’d distinguished between school review (quality assurance model) and school improvement (quality improvement model). If an authority only were to adopt the former model it could put in place an arm’s length service which would perform “mini-inspections”. The responsibility for quality improvement would be delegated to the schools with the acountability for improvement being laid at the headteacher’s door – with clear consequences if improvement did not take place.
The quality assurance team responsibility could be commissioned out to an external service.
The quality improvement model would involve some form of support team to work with schools -perhaps only those who are identified as being of concern. This could be contracted out to consultants. An alternative might be to devolve the school improvement budget to clusters of schools who would be responsible for supporting each other.
In terms of national priorities the authority is currently responsible for ensuring the National Priority obligations are addressed and reported. It might be possible to give such respnsibility over to a group of Headteachers – as senior officers of the authority – for them to decide upon the service improvement plan and the associated monitoring and reporting to the Scottish Executive.
The inspection of the education authority is more problematic but if it had been contracted out it would be the private company which would be inspected with the responibility for theeir effectiveness or otherwise lying at the feet of the authority.
If all budgets had been delegated to schools it might be more difficult to get a more coherent picture of the service provided but this would be worth further consideration.
The authority has responsibility for contributing towards the planning and implementation of integrated children’s services. A key part of this responsibility is the partnership with Heatlth, children's services and police at an authority level. One of the challenges facing us is to develop integrated children’s services at a local level. Could this be devolved to school or cluster level?
School development plans are currently influenced and validated by the authority. An alternative would have to be developed which either involved another agency taking responsibility for ensuring quality or some from of peer validation.
In the next few posts I’ll begin to tease out some of the issues which might emerge if we were to implement some of these possible alternative delivery systems.
It is my intention to engage in a dialogue with Headteachers and colleagues about our current delivery systems in relation to authority obligations and whether or not we do indeed add value to education in East Lothian?