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Plans to give headteachers more powers welcomed by unions

Jim Thewliss of SLS.
Jim Thewliss of SLS.

Plans to give Dundee headteachers greater powers and control over their schools have been welcomed by leading teaching unions.

Gregor Murray, Dundee City Council’s new children and families services convener, said this week the local authority intends to adopt a more “flexible” approach to the way its schools are run.

The North East councillor said different schools in the city may need to adopt different policies in order to reduce the attainment gap, which sees pupils from better off areas outperform their peers from poorer parts of the city.

The convener promised headteachers will be given greater powers to lead their schools.

Jim Thewliss, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, which represents headteachers and other promoted teachers, said his organisation welcomed the proposals.

He said: “We do think this is a good idea.

“If headteachers are seen as being education leaders it is appropriate, to borrow a phrase from (Scottish Government secretary John Swinney) they are given the levers and powers to make that difference.”

Mr Thewliss added SLS does not want to see local government control or oversight of schools scrapped entirely.

The former Harris Academy teacher said: “We want to see the terms of engagement between local authorities and schools improved.

“Overall, we are supportive of the idea to give headteachers greater autonomy to identify and deal with particular issues in their school community.”

Greg Dempster, general secretary of the The Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS), also said he support the plans.

Mr Dempster said: “AHDS welcomes the stance taken in Dundee and expects the head office education team to continue to help and support this approach to school improvement.”

But he warned: “The difficulty continues to be that this ring-fenced additional money for schools is set against the background of reductions in core budgets for the authority as a whole, and education in particular.

Dundee City Council is to receive £5 million from the Scottish Government’s Pupil Equity Funding programme in a bid to reduce the attainment gap.

However, its proposals to introduce regional boards, which would add another tier of 
management while reducing the 
council’s role in education, have been criticised by many organisations, including Dundee City Council.


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