Do away with Education Authorities?

I suppose I should be losing sleep over the recently launched Headteachers Association of Scotland (HAS) Manifesto.  In their manifesto – which I have yet to read – the association (of which I am still a member) – called for the current 32 education authorities to be scrapped and replaced with 8 education boards. 

HAS claims that too much money is wasted on salaries and paperwork in the current structure and that it would be better spent in schools. As I have been extensively exploring on this issue on this blog this is not something which comes as surprise. However, I think the drive to move this way will be to reduce costs – not to redistribute money to schools. The pressure on public service budgets over the next few years will mean that any savings made in transforming public services  will be just that – savings.

I’ve been reading recently about Scottish Water which has moved sequentially from local authority control; to area groups; to a single national unit. The organisation is well respected and has significantly reduced its overheads.  The down side – if people are interested – is that there is very little space for local variation in the service. 

I think Headteachers have to recognise that going down this road to which they are obviously committed will result in much greater uniformity of provision.

6 thoughts on “Do away with Education Authorities?

  1. I’m all for reducing costs – I still think there’s a lot of flab in local provision in some areas. However, your point about diversity is an important one. As we set about looking into new pedagogies and new technology it is vital that we look under every stone. eight local authorities would not be able to do this. We need small LAs where we can experiment, reflect and then roll out to our colleagues. If LAs shared their findings and models more then there would be one saving more to avoid the ‘nationalisation’ of ideas.

  2. Having spent 14 years in a big authority and 10 in a small one, my experience/intuition is that small is beautiful.

  3. I agree with the others – it is important that we know the people we are working alongside and can support them effectively. Building relationships at all levels is so important and with this large model it would be less possible than it is at present in a small authority.
    Also Don, sadly, I agree with you that no mention has been made of how good a job is currently being done, but also, some of our colleagues would also say that it is not often they are told how well they are doing, it’s more of how they could do things a bit better!!

  4. I have a copy of the HAS Manifesto. Nowhere does it propose a move to 8 education authorities.

    Funding is an issue right now, not just in the future and you are correct to point out that we will be required to deliver an education service for less.

    However, a single principle ought to unite all education professionals whether in schools or at the centre: does this activity add value to the teaching and learning process?

    If it does not, in the impending financial climate, I would suggest that we should be seriously challenging the validity of that activity.

    The most productive and enthusiastic debates we have had in the authority have had a focus on teaching and learning.

  5. Inalmost every sphere of life, there seems to be a trend for the medium-sized unit to lose out to both larger and smaller entities. In the pharmaceutical

  6. (resubmission)

    In almost every sphere of life, there seems to be a trend for the medium-sized unit to lose out to both larger and smaller entities.

    In the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, wave after wave of consolidation has taken place, prompted by the perception of economies of scale in terms of distribution,marketing and production functions. At the same time, these mammoth organisations have come to realise that other functions, noticeably those involving a creative input such as Research and Development, do not flourish well in a large corporate environment. As a result multi-nationals such as Glaxo Smith Klein Wellcome are splitting up their research teams into smaller and hence more entrepreneurial units, or even buying in their research from small specialist companies outside the the organisation.

    I wonder if education would not benefit from applying such an approach. LEAs (the medium-sized units) might consider delegating the delivery of some of their functions to local school clusters, and coordinating others with neighbouring authorities. The commercial world– businesses and their customers–has usually become more efficient as a result of structural change. why not education too?

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