Superteachers could be sent in to sort out Scotland’s worst schools

THE country’s leading head teachers could be moved into failing schools in a bid to drive up attainment in the most deprived areas.

THE country’s leading head teachers could be moved into failing schools in a bid to drive up attainment in the most deprived areas.

Education secretary Mike Russell told yesterday’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee that he was “very open” to the idea of teachers moving between schools.

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It followed a suggestion from Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a former teacher, that able head teachers could be moved to underperforming schools to help improve standards and reduce the national attainment gap between the poorest students and the rest.

The idea of greater “mobility” was first raised in the controversial McCormac review, which was published last year and recommended moving teachers between schools as a way of improving standards within the profession.

Earlier this month, figures published by Education Scotland showed 29 per cent of secondary schools in the most deprived areas were rated “weak” or “unsatisfactory” in either their performance, how they met the needs of pupils or “learners’ experiences”.

That compared with just 10 per cent of schools in the least deprived areas.

Responding to Mr Findlay’s suggestion on moving teachers during a discussion on how to drive up attainment at yesterday’s committee, Mr Russell said: “I am very open to that type of suggestion and will look at this issue in more depth and for a way to move it forward.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Findlay said: “There may be a case for looking at how we ensure the best leaders are working in the areas that need them the most.

“Recent evidence has shown that areas of multiple deprivation have a higher percentage of schools in need of assistance. The Scottish Government should engage with the profession and look at ways of getting the best leaders into these schools.”

But Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, said the idea of “superteachers” had already been tried in England, and had failed.

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He said: “There’s a case for allowing people to work in different school environments as part of their own CPD [continued professional development] on a voluntary basis, and we would not have an objection to that.

“But somebody being parachuted into a school is just a recipe for disaster. Look at any good school, and it’s about distributive leadership, not one individual.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government is not considering any option of compulsory movement of teachers.

“There may be benefits in teachers or head teachers choosing to move between schools, for ongoing professional development or to share good practice between schools and support improvement.

“The National Partnership Group is currently considering this issue and the education secretary looks forward to receiving the report later this year and any other views on this matter.”