I thought I’d take the opportunity over the summer period to reflect upon the Local Governance of Education in Scotland and consider where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we might be going. My reasoning for this analysis is that we stand on the brink of what might yet prove to be some of the biggest changes to the way in which we govern education in Scotland for nearly 80 years.
In the course of a number of posts I will attempt to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and consider some of the alternatives which might emerge in the next few years against the wider context of public service delivery in Scotland and further afield.
The governance of school age education in Scotland has remained recognisable since 1929 when the statutory responsibility for education was transferred from directly elected education authorities to City Corporations and County Councils; and passed on, essentially unchanged, through other local government reorganisations in 1975 and 1996.
Compare this with the radical changes to the way in which services such as Water and Sewerage; Police; Fire; Valuation Boards; Children’s Hearings and Further Education are now delivered with the former being the most extreme having eventually evolved into Scottish Water, a publicly owned company delivering a service across Scotland.
Nor has the direction of travel amongst these services remained static and the notion of national police and fire services are very much on the agenda for the Scottish Government.
Of course, things have not remained static within the education world over the same period with innovations such as development planning; devolved school budgets; self-evaluation; additional support for learning; and quality assurance being only a few of the many changes to have taken place. However, with the exception of the unsuccessful attempt to introduce self-governing schools in Scotland, these changes have been essentially focussed upon the responsibilities and associated processes designed to improve the quality of service.
Neverthless, it is a fact that despite changes to responsibilities, processes and various local authority reorganisations that the governance for school age education in Scotland has remained unchanged for 82 years.
The question this then raises is what have been the drivers for change within these other services of fire, police etc and what has been the benefits of the changes that arose. As these services have faced many changes, it seems that the changes have not been wholly beneficial and have required further change to provide a quality service. Are the drivers for change then and now political, moral, fiscal, budget driven and does that make a difference to the impact of the changes. And if we compare our static position in Scotland in terms of school governance with the ever changing picture of governance in English schools, are we not relieved that we have been spared the political drivers for change in England? Good thinking questions, Don.