Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

An Ecosystem: What we need for effective collaboration in Scotland

A former teacher and educational leader, and now educational consultant, has called for the Scottish Government and local authorities to loosen their grip on Scotland’s schooling system by allowing more involvement by the charity sector.

Gillian Hunt has been an educator for over 30 years, first as a primary school teacher, then in roles at the City of Edinburgh Council and the University of Edinburgh. In a report for Reform Scotland’s Melting Pot platform, she says that many individuals and organisation who offer help to the school system are rebuffed, to the detriment of young people and their development.

She has called for:

  • the Scottish Government to commission a national voluntary organisation to map all third sector organisations currently partnering with local and national authorities.
  • government departments, local authorities, schools and other relevant state sector participants to be required to nominate an existing senior member of their staff to be accountable for recording and promoting appropriate third sector relationships

“Sharing means you get more – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Leading with moral purpose and an unshakeable determination to make a difference are crucial.

“However, the truth is that the absence of a sharing of skills and expertise, particularly from the charity sector, is inhibiting the development of our young people. It does feel, often, that the source of it is a wish at government level to keep schooling centralised and homogenised.

“It’s time to bring down the barriers to third sector involvement in schools – they help nobody, and hamper many.”

Gillian Hunt, education consultant & report author

In the report, which can be read in full below, Gillian Hunt cites several examples of success, including CentreStage in Kilmarnock, the Eric Liddell Community in Edinburgh, the Swire Chinese Language Centre, the Outward Bound Trust and Dunoon Grammar School’s proactive involvement in the local community.

“No one has a monopoly on wisdom, and our education system is hardly in such splendid condition that we can afford to turn a blind eye to good and improving ideas, wherever they come from.

“We have regularly come across inspiring and effective education programmes in the third sector and elsewhere that would seem to have much to teach the wider education establishment, but that have been lost or ignored due to systemic bias or inertia.”

Chris Deerin, Director, Reform Scotland


An Ecosystem: What we need for effective collaboration in Scotland