This week's Community Column is written by Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP for the West of Scotland region.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The SNP’s education governance reforms are a deliberate distraction from the real problem facing our schools – a decade of devastating budget cuts.

Our pupils and teachers deserve better. Since the SNP came into government they have endured millions of pounds cut from education budgets, leading to 4,000 fewer teachers, almost a thousand fewer additional support needs specialists, over a third of school librarians gone and similar stories for support staff, school counsellors and others.

With the immense pressures put on remaining staff, morale is at an all-time low. A recent study found almost half of all teachers would leave in the next two years if they could.

Between unsustainable workloads and real-terms pay cuts year on year, teaching is no longer an attractive enough profession and we are left facing a chronic staff shortage as places on initial teacher education courses go unfilled.

Yet instead of addressing the funding cuts which have caused these problems, the SNP is pressing ahead with governance reforms which nobody has asked for and which will do no good.

In Holyrood’s education committee, an education expert told me that the SNP’s reforms could be traced back to Conservative reforms from the late 1980s. Their aim is to diminish local council accountability over education.

This is an approach that increasingly relies on education “gurus” or “super heads”, a flawed strategy adopted south of the border that puts all its faith in select individuals at the top of a school and their ability to parachute in to save the day.

While good head teachers are certainly important to school management, these governance reforms risk giving heads free reign by undermining accountability via democratically elected local authorities.

There are serious concerns that these reforms could lead to a situation where poor school management decisions cannot be properly challenged, which will be detrimental to staff and pupils.

The SNP’s focus on ‘empowering’ heads has ignored the hugely important contribution of ordinary teachers to improving standards and attainment.

By failing to address the funding cuts that have devastated working conditions in schools and heaped additional workload onto staff, the needs of pupils will not be met.

By embarking on a reform agenda that ignores this central issue, the SNP risk diverting scarce resources and energy away from the classroom and into coping with reorganisation.