COUNCILS are preparing a campaign to oppose a radical shake-up of the way Scottish schools are run.

Cosla, the umbrella body for local authorities, is to write to the Scottish Government highlighting concerns over the proposals.

Earlier this month, John Swinney, the Education Secretary, unveiled plans to give more power to headteachers alongside a new statutory requirement to raise standards.

Mr Swinney also transferred the power to provide support for schools to seven new regional “collaborative” bodies led by a director who will report to the chief inspector of schools.

Previously, councils were responsible for improving schools and reports on progress would be presented for scrutiny to education committees made up of locally-elected councillors.

A paper on the changes prepared for Cosla’s special leaders meeting on Friday warned that giving more power to headteachers “eroded” local democratic accountability.

Officials also said it was unclear how the plans would be regulated or enforced.

The paper states: “This is a radical departure from the current responsibility which lies with local government senior officers, and is ultimately the accountability of locally democratically elected members.

“It is not clear how this change in accountability would be regulated or enforced.

“With the movement of accountability for improvement to a regional basis, there is a significant dilution of local democratic accountability for the performance and improvement of education.” Cosla said the new role of regional director “moves accountability for improvement from democratically elected local councillors to Education Scotland”.

However, writing in The Herald today Graeme Logan, interim chief inspector of Education Scotland, warned against a turf war and said the reforms were a “once in a career” opportunity to close the attainment gap between rich and poor.

He said: “For the first time, teams of educationalists from a range of organisations will work together in regional collaboratives with the sole focus of supporting improvement in schools.

“These regional teams will work alongside schools to help them to implement the changes needed to close attainment gaps, led by a regional director.

“In my view we need the very best educational leaders in Scotland to take up these roles as regional directors of improvement. For many senior educationalists this would be a dream job.”

On the new beefed up role of Education Scotland Mr Logan said: “We want to be motivators of change in Scottish education, offering strong, confident succinct messages to the profession.

“As we move forward, we must also focus on the educational rationale and benefits of this new level of collaboration, rather than sapping all the energy out of the system, fixating over structures or engaging in a turf war.”

Speaking in advance of a debate on the proposals in the Scottish Parliament Mr Swinney urged support for the reforms.

He said: “The detail will need to be developed in close collaboration with local government, the teaching profession, parents and young people. I want everyone to join with us in closing the attainment gap.”