Head teacher canes ‘Big Brother’ bureaucracy in Scottish schools

Rod Grant's criticisms come at a time when Education Secretary John Swinney is already under pressure over policy
Rod Grant's criticisms come at a time when Education Secretary John Swinney is already under pressure over policy
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A leading headteacher has claimed the schools system risks falling apart as a result of micro-management and intense scrutiny by the Scottish Government.

Rod Grant of fee-paying Clifton Hall School says teachers are operating in an environment of mistrust, which he compared to “management on behalf of Big Brother”.

His criticisms were posted on the school’s Facebook page and come at a time when the Scottish Government is under pressure over its handling of education.

Last week it emerged that more than 100 teachers have taken up an invitation to write to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressing their concern over Scotland’s education system.

Other anonymous teachers have raised issues such as difficulties dealing with violent children, who require additional support, stifling levels of bureaucracy, poor pay and conditions and increasing pressure to rewrite reports and change attainment level indicators upwards against their will.

Grant said: “Teachers in Scotland are currently operating within a system of severe micro-management, where everything that occurs does so under an umbrella of supervision.

“I have often argued that environment and culture is everything in a school. If you get the climate for learning and teaching wrong, everything falls apart. That seems to be what is now happening in Scotland,” wrote Grant.

A “climate of mistrust” meant, he said, there was little incentive for teachers to go for promotion, quoting recent statistics which show 15 secondary schools and 390 primaries are sharing heads. Successful candidates would have to operate in a system where “there is intense scrutiny of data on assessment and programmes of learning”. He added: “That’s not leadership, that’s management on behalf of Big Brother.

“I’ve heard so much utter nonsense about how everyone in power is seeking to tackle bureaucracy, whilst at the very same time requiring more data and more analysis of data so that it can work out what is going wrong.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Teachers should feel free to speak about their concerns and we value the regular feedback we get from them.”