Fears voiced for the future of Falkirk schools

Falkirk schools could come under the control of a regional board which includes schools from Dunbartonshire
Falkirk schools could come under the control of a regional board which includes schools from Dunbartonshire

There are concerns plans to include Falkirk schools in the same regional model as East and West Dunbartonshire will hurt our children’s education.

The fears were raised at a recent meeting of Falkirk Council’s education committee, with members feeling the Scottish Government’s new education delivery plans could strip the council of its power of delivering education and give it to a regional area that includes East an West Dunbartonshire, Stirling and Clackmannan.

Members directed council officials to write to SNP Education Minister John Swinney highlighting their concerns.

Council leader Craig Martin, committee convenor, said: “To put Falkirk schools into a region with kids from Bearsden makes no sense to me. I have never had a teacher come to me saying they would be better teachers if Bearsden Academy was in our area.

“Right now the education committee has Falkirk parents on it, Falkirk teachers on it, Falkirk pupils on it and Falkirk councillors on it. Under these plans local accountably may be gone.

“I fear this is just the SNP’s latest attempt to destroy councils. They centralised police, fire, care and it seems education is next.”

The SNP also wants to give all children the right to demand to be taught in a Gaelic school and nursery hours to be increased.

Councillor Martin said: “It looks like the SNP’s plans for Gaelic teaching could result in the council, or new regional board, having to build a Gaelic school – this at the time of massive budget cuts.

“It’s going to be hard to find a central location for kids from Bo’ness and Balloch for a new school. I support the government’s idea of extending nursery provision and would urge them to keep their promise of offering flexibility into the system, however their latest proposal would result in nursery kids being in school an hour longer than primary school kids. That is just madness.”

The proposals which were published in the SNP government’s report Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland at the end of June.

The report stated: “A governance review will examine the system changes required to deliver our commitments to empower schools, decentralise management and the support through the encouragement of school clusters and creation of new educational regions.

“The reforms are designed to ensure parents, colleges, universities and local employers can better support efforts to raise attainment and ensure that young people progress into positive destinations.”

“Our clear objective is to devolve decision making and funding to schools and communities.”

Deputy First Minister Mr Swinney added: “Our review of governance will explore all options to ensure we create the right balance of autonomy and accountability in our education system.

“It will consider the changes needed to empower our teachers and schools, seek to devolve decision-making to schools and communities and support the development of new educational regions.”