Damning school inspection report ‘shows change needed’

The status quo is not an option for schooling said education secretary John Swinney. Picture: Contributed

The status quo is not an option for schooling said education secretary John Swinney. Picture: Contributed

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A damning inspection report into schooling provision in Scotland underlines the need for radical measures to overhaul the system, education secretary John Swinney has said.

Argyll and Bute Council has been branded “weak” across a range of key indicators including “leadership” and improving on its “quality of services” in a recent schools report issued by Education Scotland.

It came as Mr Swinney revealed many leading figures in Scottish education have set out their opposition to his flagship plan which would see he creation of educational regions in Scotland and hand greater powers to headteachers and parents in running schools.

He said in a keynote speech yesterday that a “strong body of opinion” in a consultation on the reforms does not accept the need for change.

But Swinney warned: “ My opinion – the opinion of the Scottish Government is clear – the status quo is not an option.”

Inspector Alistair Brown’s report into Argyll and Bute sets out a range of shortcomings and identifies a need to “significantly improve young people’s attainment across the authority.”

Mr Swinney insisted this underlined the need for change to give schools greater freedom.

“I can’t honestly put my hand on my heart and say to you that every local authority in the country can provide the quality of support that their schools require,” he said. “Education Scotland produced a very damning report on Argyll and Bute Council just earlier this week which had every single assessment of the local authority at weak.

“If I then look at the evidence coming out of the inspection approach there are questions raised about the performance of some local authorities.”

Mr Swinney accepts there are many strengths among some councils. But he warned: “It’s not everywhere and I don’t think it’s acceptable for to say `well its allright in some parts of the country but it’s not right in others.”

The new education regions will be a collaboration of better and poorer performing councils, with Education Scotland also involved.

He added: “This is a vision of empowerment and devolution, devolution from local authorities to schools to include head teachers, teachers, parents and communities, and devolution from a national to a local or regional level.”

Anne Marie Knowles of Argyll and Bute Council said action is being taken.

She added: “Our children are getting a good foundation for learning when they start their education.”

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