Scotland has had Devolved School Management (DSM) since 1996. The scheme had four principles:
1 To improve the quality of decision-making by allowing schools greater flexibility in deciding spending priorities at the local level.
2 To allow schools to respond quickly to needs, changes and priorities at local level.
3 To ensure resources were used more efficiently and provide value for money.
4 To raise the morale of Head Teachers and their staff.
In my first post on School Based Management I began to explore a more radical version of the DSM scheme, which has been in operation in Scotland for the last 12 years, yet has not necessarily satisfied the principles set out above.
The intention of school-based management is to construct a system which would allow schools to take real and substantive control over the education process, with the authority commissioning the service, establishing outcomes and monitoring progress.
Over the coming few posts I’m going to try to make some sense of this issue with a view to exploring some of the possibilities and also highlighting some of the associated pros and cons.
Perhaps it might help here of I were to adopt the position of headteacher and look at the possibilities from that perspective.
Imagine the local authority have contacted me and the parent council and offered to allow us to establish a school-based management system? The most obvious response is what does it mean?
As set out in School Based Management 1 it would involve all associated funding required to deliver education in our school being rolled together and placed in our budget. The staff would be employed by the school and all management responsibilities would rest with the school – although we would have the option of buying support from a variety of sources.
The authority would set out a list of outcomes which we would have to acheive but how we did it would be up to us. We would not have to adhere to local authority policies – although we would have to adhere to all statutory responsibilities.
The additional aspect on offer would be the possibility of the headteacher (me) receiving a bonus of between 10-20% on an annual basis. Now I immediately hear others crying foul and seeing this as just another way of managers to get rich but there is a down side! The headteacher would be placed on a five year fixed-term contract. At the end of the contract – depending on whether or not outcomes had been achieved – the authority could decide to commission another headteacher to deliver education in that school (I could be removed sooner of short-term outcomes are not addressed). At that point the parent council would be involved in the selection of the new headteacher. If the outcomes had been achieved the contract might be renewed.
In such a scheme teachers would always remain employees of the school and would be subject to normal employment law. The headteacher and parent council may decide to offer some form or bonus scheme to staff depending on the school budget.
The budget settlement to the school would be set out on a three year basis allowing the headteacher to plan the school’s budget.
Children with additional needs would carry a higher Education Value Credit and it would be up to the parents to negotiate how that credit was spent on their child.
So would I have been interested in such an offer? I think the answer would have to have been yes. Of course there are so many questions I would need to ask and resolve but in principle I would have been very interested.
Over the next few posts I’ll begin to take an in-depth look at specific issues arising from school based management, such as:
- What happens if school looks like it’s going to go bust?
- What happens if the school roll drops and we have a surplus of staff?
- What happens in the case of an emergency?
- What would trade unions have to say about this scheme?
- How do we deliver such things as musical instruction, outdoor education?
- What would happen to local authority departments who currently service schools?
- What sort of outcomes would a school have to achieve?
- Could a school renegotiate everything, e.g. transport, maintenance, school meals?
- What if a school is dominated by a particular group of parents who take it down an unsatisfactory route?
- Would all schools move to such a scheme at the same time?
- Could schools pay more than the going rate for teachers?
- What sort of training/support would there be for headteachers who take up this offer?
- How would the headteachers of small schools manage to take on such responsibilities?
- How do we (should we) ensure equality of opportunity?
- What about the management of ICT?
- Would there be a way back to authority control once SBM was implemented?
- How would schools work together?
- How do you ensure that schools in areas of social deprivation are properly supported?
- How would you prevent schools from competing with each other?
- Would this scheme improve education?
I’d welcome other questions and suggestions.