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

Fit for Purpose: School Governance for the 21st Century


The Commission on School Reform, the independent group of education experts set up by the think tank Reform Scotland, today marks its 10th anniversary with the publication of a new paper calling for schools to be given more freedom from local and national politicians.

The Commission’s paper – Fit for Purpose: School Governance for the 21st Century – calls for headteachers to be responsible for their school’s budget in the same way as a principal of a college or university, with the help of professional finance officers serving clusters of schools.

This is one of several recommendations contained in the paper, aimed at recovering Scotland’s reputation for schooling. The proposals have similarities to the Scottish Government’s proposed but abandoned legislation during the last Parliamentary term.

“The declining performance of Scotland’s schooling is a matter of great regret and dismay to the Commission and its members. We have spent our careers working in, on, or for state education, and we have spent the first ten years of the Commission on School Reform suggesting how we might rescue it.

“Scotland’s recent educational history has been characterised by the introduction of policies on the basis of very little evidence, and in the absence of any piloting, and where pilot projects have been run, the correct lessons have not always been learned. Now, we need the right changes, for the right reasons.

“The essential first change we need is to governance. Schools, headteachers and teachers need to be given the freedom to improve the outcomes of their children in a way that local and national governments of all political backgrounds have proven themselves unable to do.

“Uniformity is the enemy of equity. If central and local government, and schools themselves, accept that, then the scope for improvement is limitless.”

Keir Bloomer, Chair of the Commission on School Reform


Fit for Purpose: School Governance for the 21st Century