Structure is necessary if education is to improve

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There is a great deal to commend aspects of this report, and it would be difficult to quarrel with the aspiration of returning education in Scotland to world leadership.

Similarly, the SSTA supports any measure that will assist the disadvantaged in achieving their potential. However, it is important that we do not simply accept that the creation of a laissez-faire political approach to educational policy and an invitation to headteachers to demonstrate their inspirational leadership will solve the problem.

Government structure is required in order to achieve democratic accountability and to ensure some national road-mapping, so that structural cohesion can permit young people to move from school to school without impediment.

If the ultimate aspiration of this report is simply to ape the English “academy” concept, the SSTA has grave concerns.

We find it ironic that headteachers complain of excessive micromanagement when sometimes they are the most ardent practitioners in their own schools.

Many of our members would welcome a cessation of the “control freakery” of which they are often the victim. Relying on inspirational leadership is a hostage to fortune. Many headteachers and teachers are honest journeymen and are correct to require structure from government and employers.

We therefore counsel caution on many aspects of this report and call for a sensible application of the recommendations within a clear structure determined by our elected representatives.

We are not convinced that the problems of the disavantaged can be met by encouraging independent action in schools. It is over-simplistic to suggest that. The complexity around any socio-economic analysis of the issue of disadvantage in contemporary Scottish society exemplifies the need to involve Scottish Government resources.

Such issues are frankly beyond the well-intentioned efforts of individual school management and frankly does disservice to the disadvantaged.

Tinkering around the edges will not take Scotland back into pre-eminent educational leadership. Do not consign Scottish schools to a sink-or-swim, laissez-faire environment.

• Alan McKenzie is acting general secretary of the Scottish Seconday Teachers’ Association (SSTA).