A new approach to supporting education in schools aims to improve the learning opportunities and attainment for every child in the country.
Schools across Scotland will soon be able to draw on a range of expertise through six newly established Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs), hopefully helping to – in Deputy First Minister John Swinney’s own words – “close the poverty-related attainment gap and raise standards for all”.
Mr Swinney believes the new RICs will help achieve this by sharing evidence of what works and providing expert and practical support for teachers and schools.
This week Falkirk Council’s education executive agreed the authority’s children’s services should enter into a new Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) for education with Clackmannanshire, Stirling and West Lothian councils.
They also welcomed the news Robert Naylor, Falkirk Council’s director of children’s services, will be taking up a six month full-time secondment as the lead officer of the newly formed Forth Valley and West Lothian RIC – with the four participating councils each contributing their share to back-fill the cost of the salary for his new post.
Mr Naylor and the other lead officers will be responsible for ensuring a detailed education improvement plan, in consultation with their schools and head teachers, is in place for each area by 2018.
He will arrange a briefing session for all Falkirk Council elected members at a later date, giving them more information on the progress of the RIC.
As the various RICs become more established, further discussions will take place between the chief executives of the four councils, the Scottish Government and Education Scotland on future funding implications of the collaborative.
Executive education members also looked at an updated report on the Scottish Government’s consultation on “fair funding to achieve excellence and equity in education”.
The government is looking to establish a funding model that gives head teachers more of a say in funding decisions for their schools.
Gary Greenhorn, head of planning and resources, said the RICs had just been set up and their impact on fair funding for schools is yet to be ascertained.
He added: “The head teachers’ focus must remain on teaching – bureaucracy and anything that detracts from that must not come into the equation. Head teachers are not accountants, they are not lawyers and not experienced in a number of technical areas.”
Falkirk Council’s response to the consultation also stressed the importance of the head teacher’s main focus remaining on learning and teaching and any change to funding models must not get in the way of this.
Councillor Dennis Goldie said: “Head teachers are not accountants, so it’s strange you would put someone like that in charge of a budget. Head teachers should be focused on teaching and the running of their schools.”