Focus on children not structures, says UNISON in response to Headteachers’ Charter

Press ReleaseUNISON Scotland, the union for school support staff, says the Scottish government’s plans to create a Headteachers’ Charter is flawed and will make it harder to deliver quality education.

The proposals would see headteachers taking over responsibility of staff and procurement from local authorities.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “Taking these powers away from local authorities will not only add additional burden to school staff – whose focus should be on educating children – it removes democratic accountability. Distancing schools from wider children’s services will also make it harder to provide the support many children need to benefit from the education services offered in schools.

“It is very clear that the key problems in Scottish education are not caused by a lack of power for headteachers – it’s budget cuts, a teacher shortage and loss of support staff.

The government must put its focus on children, not structures, and provide the much needed funding in education and wider local government services that support children and families.”

Carol Ball, chair of UNISON Scotland’s education issues group, said: “Education is delivered by a team of professionals, not just teachers, and these proposals will impact upon staff at all levels.

“As things stand there is no spare capacity in schools, all staff are working long hours as they struggle to maintain standards.

“Our concern is that a proposal to push work down to schools is a decision driven simply by cuts. We cannot separate improving the delivery of services from providing adequate funding for those services. Our recent survey of members in schools reveals the impact of cuts: shortages of staff, lack of resources and heavy workloads.

“The government should focus on tackling the real problems: funding cuts, poverty and inequality rather than restructuring.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

• You can view UNISON’s full response to the Scottish government at http://www.unison-scotland.org/2018/01/30/education-reform-consultation/

• You can view our recent survey of school support staff – Hard Lessons – here http://www.unison-scotland.org/2017/01/16/hard-lessons-support-staff-struggling-to-maintain-standards-for-pupils-because-of-cuts/