Scotland politics

Funding for school 'twinning' scheme to end

Schoolboy sitting exam Image copyright David Davies

Funding for a scheme to twin schools in different council areas is to end.

The pilot scheme, which has run for three years, was designed to help underperforming schools learn from those that were doing well.

It was championed by the former education secretary Mike Russell.

Education Scotland confirmed there would be no new funding for the school improvement partnership programme. The Scottish government said it was still keen for schools to work together.

A spokesman for the government said: "The findings of the three-year pilot school improvement partnership programme have played an important part in our approach to closing the attainment gap.

"The results of this early work are being shared widely across the education system and continue to inform both national and local approaches to improvement as part of the Scottish attainment challenge, in particular by encouraging collaboration within the education system.

"Education is our number one priority. That is why we announced in the budget last year £120m for schools to use at their discretion to close the attainment gap in 2017-18 - £20m more than previously announced."

Decision-making powers

Although there will be no new funding for the scheme from the Education Scotland agency, the government is still keen to encourage schools to work together and learn from each other.

Data from standardised assessments being introduced this year may give a clearer indication of which schemes to raise attainment are working better than others or of how well individual schools are doing.

The data could be used to compare two schools with broadly similar catchment areas - if one school appears to be punching above its weight it could offer an example to others.

The government hopes its review of school governance could also help - a consultation on its broad aims closed last week.

One aim will be to devolve more decision-making powers to head teachers.

Another proposal is to have regional education boards will be to encourage links and co-operation across different council areas to help share the best practice.

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