FORCING schools to become more independent is counterproductive, a former headteacher has warned.

Frank Lennon, who currently sits on a school think tank set up by Reform Scotland, called for flexibility over Scottish Government moves to hand more power to headteachers.

He told the Scottish Parliament’s education committee: “More autonomy at school level is definitely worth pursuing, but the difficulties are how it is done.

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“I am a bit puzzled as to why there is no sectoral identification. It is all schools irrespective if they are primary or secondary, irrespective of their willingness or readiness.

“There is an irony here because we want a school-led system ... but we are compelling them to take more autonomy and that seems a bit perverse to me.”

Mr Lennon called for schools to be given the power to judge for themselves whether they were ready for the reforms which will see headteachers handed power over finances, staff and the curriculum.

He added: “Primary headteachers are much less willing to take on the risks of being cast adrift, as they see it, from the local authority.”

Mr Lennon said a degree of control over when schools opted in to the new arrangements would avoid “grudging compliance”.

Earlier, Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, chief executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, told the committee rapid decentralisation of power to schools in Sweden had resulted in poor outcomes because it was done too quickly.