PLANS to hand more power to Scottish headteachers are in danger of creating controversial academy-style schools, teachers’ leaders have warned.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union said ministerial proposals had the potential to go even further than policies in England which have cut council control of schools.

The warning comes as the Scottish Government prepares to pass legislation to establish a new Headteachers’ Charter in 2018.

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The charter will further empower headteachers allowing them to shape the curriculum, decide on how funding is allocated and choose staff.

One suggestion is the expansion of the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) - a mechanism set up to give cash direct to schools with high levels of disadvantaged pupils.

In its submission on the government’s funding proposals the EIS said government plans drew comparisons with the drive to create academies in England.

Academies were created by the UK Labour Government in 1998 to address what were seen as failing inner-city schools, but the programme was radically expanded in 2010 by the Conservative Government.

Academies, which have control over their own funding and are run by a governing body or trust, are controversial in Scotland because they are seen as a political mechanism to bypass councils.

There have also been a number of high profile cases where academies have led to a reduction in standards or where there has been questionable use of funds.

The EIS paper states: “At one end of the spectrum ... the Scottish Government is in danger of creating schools with the same characteristics as academies in terms of reducing local authority power and increasing headteachers’ powers, albeit “academies light” since the government wish to nominally retain local authorities’ accountability for schools.

“How local authorities can retain accountability whilst headteachers have greater decision-making powers is difficult to envisage and it is interesting this consultation seems to be asking how it could be done.

“With the additional powers to headteachers and no governing body oversight, the Scottish Government’s proposals for school governance go beyond the powers that headteachers have in academies in England.”

The EIS said it would be ironic if the outcome of the governance review was the “Anglicisation” of Scottish education.

It added: “The EIS does not believe this is the intention, but the well-publicised tension between national and local government could lead to this outcome if sensible compromise ... is neither sought nor found.”

Rather than giving headteachers sole responsibility for funding decisions , the EIS believes they should be able to allocate resources on the basis of decisions made at school level by teachers and headteachers within a more democratic model.

It concludes: “The EIS shares the consultation paper’s aspiration of empowering schools. However, the reality is the paper actually sets out ways to empower headteachers only.”

Meanwhile, in a separate submission, Cosla, the umbrella body for councils, also raised concerns about government plans.

The paper said local democratic accountability for both policy and financial decisions was crucial and should not change.

Cosla blamed current inconsistencies in local authority funding on Scottish Government ring-fencing of significant sums for policies such as the maintenance of pupil teacher ratios, teacher numbers and the presumption against closure of rural schools.

“Factors such as these lead to differences between authorities which on paper represent variability, but in reality are not within the gift of the local authority to change,” the submission states.

“We have serious concerns about accountability for public money if more power is to be devolved to headteachers without the input of central local authority staff and therefore without accountability to elected members.”

On the potential for PEF to become a wider model for funding Cosla said there was already concern the scheme was creating “silo” working.

Cosla added: “Spend may largely be driven by the individual priorities of headteachers with no clear link to wider local authority strategy.

“A proposal to extend PEF ... would create complexity, allow more variation and bypass democratic accountability.

“The emerging disconnect would make it increasingly difficult to take an outcomes based approach to supporting the wellbeing of children and young people.”