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Renfrewshire Council concerned by plans to create regional education boards

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Renfrewshire Council has expressed concern at Scottish Government proposals to create regional education boards.

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Plans put forward by ministers in Edinburgh could significantly change the role of local authorities in running schools, giving powers to new regional boards while placing extra responsibilities on head teachers.

Councillors across party lines unanimously agreed a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the plans, which emphasised the strengths of current arrangements.

It expressed concern the proposed reforms would increase teachers’ workload and threaten existing partnerships that see schools work with other agencies to meet children’s needs.

The plans were also criticised as reducing the ability of communities to make their own choices, as appointed regional boards could take over decision-making powers currently held by locally elected councillors who are responsible to voters.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, the convener of education, said: “The current structures have served our children well for many years.

“They place our schools at the heart of their communities, giving head teachers significant powers to adapt to local circumstances and make the best decisions for their areas.

“Our children are already the central focus of highly effective partnerships, which ensure all agencies can work together to meet children’s needs.

“These arrangements are flexible and adaptable. There is simply no need for an externally imposed governance arrangement that will be bureaucratic and cumbersome.”

She continued: “Schools throughout Renfrewshire already deliver high quality comprehensive education.

“I’m concerned that imposing regional structures would detract from successful integrated approaches, while adding significant extra workload onto our head teachers.

“It is only right that decisions affecting Renfrewshire schools are made in Renfrewshire by its elected representatives – not by regional boards made up of unelected appointees or by councillors from other authorities.”

The Scottish Government consultation is open until 6 January 2016. Residents can express their views by visiting https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/empowering-schools/a-governance-review/