Management of Schools / Sustainable Education in Highland Communities Steering Group – Update 11 May 18

The links below are to the latest information from the MoS/SEHC programme manager:

SEHC Steering Group Agenda 14th May 2018

Sustainable Education in Highland Communities – Final 100518

The HPCP had three representatives at the first Management of Schools / Sustainable Education in Highland Communities Steering Group held on 24 April 2018 (Mark Gunn, HPCP Secretary, Hugh Wright from Lundavra Primary and Jason Hasson from Tarradale Primary).  The documents at the links below were supplied by Highland Council and are (apart form the agenda) drafts, not the final position.  The Steering Group proposals will go to Council Committee (Care, Learning and Housing, previously the People committee) on 25 May 2018 and there will be another SG meeting on 14 May 2018 to agree the draft proposals.  It is likely that the programme will be titled “Sustainable Education in Highland Communities” to reflect that it is about far more than just school management.

Sustainable Education in Highland Communities pages 1-10

Management of Schools Strategy Group Agenda 24th April 2018

S E in H C Governance diagram

Management of Schools Strategy Group – draft remit

The HPCP inputs to the meeting on the 24 Apr 218 were well received and included the need for much greater clarity and detail on what needed to be achieved, why, and by when.  The importance of informed parental consultation and contributions were stresses, as was the need for wider community engagement, including via Community Learning and Development which could help to prepare parents for a more active role in schools, including Parent Council activity.

The HPCP made it clear that while it can represent the views of many Parent Councils and Parents, it does not claim to be the sole or universal voice of parents in Highland.

It is clear that Highland Council is aware of what went well in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the MoS Programme, and what did not go well.  It is clear on most of the reasons for success and failure, and on the need for better communications with Parents in particular.  It understands that it must:

  • provide a better, clearer rationale for the SEHC programme, and communicate that clearly, effectively and widely.
  • devote dedicated resources to it by establishing a SEHC team (seconded form other duties).
  • identify the baseline for comparison of options (ie, explain what things will look like in 5, 10 or 20 years if there are no changes from the current policies and practices, and why).
  • use information from Phase 2 to enact the “quick wins” – ie those changes that can be made quickly and that have parental support.
  • develop an indicative programme timeline but not be driven by arbitrary deadlines.
  • make it clear to all involved where they have influence on decisions and where they have actual power over decisions, noting that ultimately it is the elected members – Councillors – who get to vote and that it is only in certain circumstances (eg a proposal to close a school) that there is a Statutory Right to consultation.

There are many factors affecting education in Highland.  Some, like the shortage of teachers, and the rural nature of the Region with a low population density, are outwith the control of the Council.  Highland essentially has to compete for resources like money and teachers; reorganising and clustering schools may be one way to make teaching posts in Highland more attractive, both to people already living here (teachers or potential future teachers) and to those who might move here.  Constructive Parental engagement is one element that can help achieve that, but constructive does not mean uncritical.  Thus the HPCP will advise, support and challenge as needed, maintaining an independent viewpoint and voice.

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