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New report shows positive steps being taken to support an empowered education system

Local authorities across Scotland are successfully implementing a range of strategies and approaches  to deliver a more locally empowered education system for headteachers, teachers and support staff. That's the key finding from Education Scotland's Readiness for Empowerment thematic inspection report.

The report, available from today (December 17) collates the findings from  HM Inspectors following engagement with more than 1300 people, including head teachers, local authority staff, teachers and other stakeholders.

While each authority is at a different stage, the report shows a number of different avenues being pursued by the education sector and identifies the key strengths making the system work in a collaborative and empowered way:

1. Headteachers have the freedom and responsibility to lead improvement in their own schools

2. Improvement planning processes are now more streamlined

3. Professional learning, leadership development and increasing collaboration are enabling empowerment of headteachers and schools to bring about improvement in their schools

4. Within a range of supportive policies, guidance, curriculum frameworks and shared resources, headteachers and schools are empowered to design and deliver a curriculum which meets their own school's local context

5. The collegiate approaches between the local authority and schools to staffing supports empowerment of headteachers and schools

6. Support and challenge from local authorities are empowering headteachers in making decisions about how their funding is spent.

HM Chief Inspector of Education Gayle Gorman welcomed the report.

She said: 'I am encouraged that the evidence gathered by HM Inspectors shows the positive steps already being taken on the journey towards empowerment and the ways in which different local authorities have embraced the principles set out in the Joint Agreement between Scotland's stakeholders in education, the School Empowerment Steering Group.

'The truth is that together we can achieve change quicker and better than working alone. That progress takes a further step forward with publication of this report and I hope national partners; local authorities and schools can benefit from our findings and collectively can use them to support their efforts.

'It is evident that a high level of professional commitment to collaboration and co-production exists across Scottish education in order to improve outcomes for children and young people.

'This is exemplified by the many strengths highlighted in this report along with examples of practice and comments from leaders and practitioners about the positive impact that empowerment can bring.

'Our findings also show clearly that, as expected, there is still more to be done to  realise our collective ambition of an empowered, collaborative system.

'As we move along our journey of empowerment, there is a careful balance to be struck between providing the right amount of governance and accountability while at the same time allowing leaders and practitioners' flexibility and autonomy to meet their pupils' needs.'

In addition to showing current best practice, the report suggests not only aspects that can be refined for further successes within the system but directed actions for each stakeholder group, ranging across national partners, local authorities to head teachers, to carry out as part of the continual improvement.

The next two thematic inspections – looking at curriculum leadership and parent and pupil participation – will be published in 2019.

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