Headlines: October 8th, 2004

Local councils in Scotland are deeply concerned by the new School Education Bill, which it has called ‘unnecessary legislation’. The new law gives ministers the power to force education authorities to act on the suggestions of schools inspectors.The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities believes there is no need for the legislation because there are no failing schools in Scotland. The Convention’s President, Pat Watters, described the act as ‘a complete waste of Parliamentary time.’

The powers, Councillor Watters said, had been available to ministers since 1980 but they had never had cause to use them because of the high standard of education local authorities were providing for Scotland’s young people. “Unfortunately now that this is on the statute book it will be a power that is potentially open to political abuse and showboating,” he warned.

The local authorities fear that ministers will be able to use the new power of intervention for political grandstanding or to appear tough for the sake of it. This, they say, will do nothing at all to improve the quality of education in Scotland and nothing to take the education debate forward.