Community-Based School Management

Over the last few weeks I’ve been continuing to exploring the concept of school based management.

Some authorities in Scotland have implemented the concept of Learning Communities based around the secondary school  and the local primary schools, Glasgow runs New Learning Communities, Falkirk has Integrated learning communities and South Lanarkshire has Learning Communities.

Each of these schemes has very positive features, most notably in relation to the integration of other services to support vulnerable children and to co-ordinate developments across local schools.

However, there would appear to be scope to develop these schemes by exploring further devolution of budgetary control and employment of staff within the community of schools.

I haven’t been able to find many international examples of such a development aside from on in Madagascar which might suggest that such a idea is not that practical but in the interests promoting a dialectic of possible worlds I thought I might take the Learning Community concept and extend it to community-based management of schools.

Would it be possible for a local authority to establish a concordat with a group of local primary schools and their associated secondary school and devolve all budgets to a Learning Community Board of Management? 

A Head Teacher from the schools would take on the position of Chief Operating Officer.  The Board of Management would have representatives from the parents, staff, local community, elected members, health service, police, community learning and social services.

The biggest problem I see with this idea is the fear from some schools that they get subsumed within a larger community and lose their identity.  Yet the potential for every member of staff being employed by the Learning Community and the possibility of using the collective resources in much more coherent manner than at present might allow real progresss to made on promoting education as a true progression from 3-18 and the associated ownership of the school and the wider educational agenda by the local community.

3 thoughts on “Community-Based School Management

  1. Don
    When I left Glasgow 5 years ago Learning Communities were set up. Glasgow is now backing away from Learning Communities due to cost. Maybe there are lessons we can learn from their experiences before we head down the same road?

  2. We’ve been through several learning experiences with Learning Communities and there are lots of different perspectives. Currently where I work we have a Head of Area for 3 learning communities , the Head’s team consists of 2 senior managers pupil support – 1 also has a big remit running behaviour bases which is why we have two. The SMPS runs the extended team – LS teachers, behaviour support etc, the attendance officer works from this team too. I work alongside them looking at quality assurance over the area, within our offices we also have the support services team for one of the LCs – each LC has its own team who oversee classroom support, budgets etc etc. Alongside us we have ICS with their co-loacted health, youth workers, social work ect. We are now at the stage of the entire teams being in place and are seeing how this will embed over time.
    I find what you are saying Don very tempting! As a Head I would have loved the ability to get hold of the entire budget. Decentralising things to the level of the LC with HTs and the extended team having the whole control of what goes on locally. I also think the notion of a Head taking on the role of a LC manager with responsibility for various things is a good one – pay someone an extra bit for this role and it shares out leadership further.
    The best thing about our current model is without a doubt the co-location and the means to spread collegiate working. Without talking myself out of a job I would love to see the LC having the ability to make really big decisions about staffing and its future with further devloved budgets.
    In amongst this the outcomes for HTs being agreed with fixed term contracts with a real tie in to meeting the outcomes agreed at local level, with the concordat with the LA still allowing for accountability at LC level but decentralising all the other staff from LC to make efficiency savings. This would give real ownership to schools, break the them and us cycle and give people at all levels the feeling of making a real difference. Schools would not be subsumed within the LCs – of anything I think the ability to share a show good practice to each other is allowing them here to become more individual and brave in making decisions about learning and teaching in indivdual establishments.

  3. Lynne/Andrea

    Thanks for your very helpful comments. There is much to learn from others’ experiences. The challenge will be create a system which builds upon these experiences and from where we are at this point in time. I think that’s why I’m looking at a 5-10 year plan.

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