THE Scottish Government is preparing to shelve flagship legislation intended to give more power to schools.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, will publish a draft Education Bill today - but could delay its introduction for up to a year to see whether councils improve performance without a change in the law.

The Bill was intended to introduce a new Headteachers’ Charter giving school leaders the power to set the curriculum, hire staff and control their own finances.

It was also brought forward to underpin new regional bodies set up to support school improvement - known as regional improvement collaboratives.

And the government wanted to disband the General Teaching Council for Scotland watchdog and set up a new Education Workforce Council in its place.

However, Mr Swinney has been unable to secure support for his proposals from rival political parties at Holyrood, with the exception of the Scottish Conservatives.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have all said legislation is unnecessary.

And even though the Conservatives are the most supportive they have reservations over whether regional collaboratives would interfere in the independence of headteachers.

In addition, the proposals proved unpopular with teaching unions, parents and councils who argued many of the suggestions – such as the right to hire staff - would fall foul of existing legislation governing staffing arrangements.

It has also been suggested many of the proposed changes – such as setting up a Headteachers’ Charter - do not require legislation.

The regional collaboratives are already in operation without a change in the law.

Critics will argue any move to delay the introduction of what was the centrepiece of the Scottish Government’s legislative programme will amount to an embarrassing climbdown.

However, in a statement to parliament Mr Swinney is likely to stress the importance of the government working in collaboration with councils to deliver school improvement.

Previous Bills which have been published, but not introduced to parliament include the 2010 Referendum Bill.

Plans for the Referendum Bill were included in the SNP’s 2007 manifesto and subsequently published, but it was not voted on because it would have been blocked by opposition parties.