NURSERY staff, pupil support assistants and college lecturers should be registered under the same national body as school teachers, a watchdog has said.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), the professional body for teachers, said giving it control over staff in other sectors of education would improve overall standards.

Its submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on changes to the way schools are run states: "There would be an advantage in asking GTC Scotland to assume greater responsibilities in this area as this would support greater coherence, particularly in regard to pre-school practitioners, pupil support assistant and college lecturers, and offer seamless regulation from nursery to school, and to college."

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The call came after the Scottish Government announced plans to move power over education away from councils and place more decisions in the hands of headteachers.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said the moves would ensure decisions about children’s learning were taken as close as possible to local communities.

The GTCS went on to state that, while councils had an important role to play, there were too many variations in attainment in different authorities.

The submission adds: "There is a sense in which individual schools in individual communities are not empowered enough to take forward educational change and improvement in ways that reflect the particular context of individual communities.

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"For example, the history of the implementation of curriculum... and qualifications reform has been characterised by unjustifiable variations between local authorities.

"As a result, support for teachers and learners has been inconsistent and has undermined the principle that children have common

entitlements to educational provision across Scotland, regardless of the school they happen to attend or the local authority area in which they happen to live."

Meanwhile, a separate submission from the Hometown Foundation, a charity which has championed the cause of autonomous schools, also backed change.

It said: "Local authorities and teacher unions have vehemently resisted the notion of state-funded autonomous schools driven by their own vested interest.

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"This is based on self-preservation rather than the best outcomes for the group they are meant to be serving – the pupils. This is an area that the Scottish Government requires to urgently address to allow the much needed radical reform of Scottish education to take place.

"The cost effective and progressive models for state-funded autonomous schools which have been submitted to date allow for various approaches to be tested until the Scottish Government provides the necessary environment to allow other mainstream schools to come forward."