COUNCILS have accused the Scottish Government of reneging on a deal over the way schools will be supported in future.

The row centres on the creation of “regional collaboratives” intended to provide more consistent support to schools across council boundaries.

The original plans were seen as a threat to local authorities because they deliberately sidelined council officials and were to be run by independent directors reporting to the chief inspector of schools at Education Scotland.

However, a deal was struck between John Swinney, the Education Secretary, and Stephen McCabe, Cosla’s education spokesman, which saw the power of regional directors significantly reduced.

However, Cosla, the umbrella body for councils, believes a new Scottish Government consultation on the collaboratives poses a new threat because it suggests councils would no longer produce their own improvement plans for schools.

Its submission states: “We are extremely disappointed and concerned the proposals in relation to regional improvement collaboratives undermine the agreement between the Scottish Government and Cosla.

“The agreement was clear that improvement collaboratives would complement the role of local authorities. This consultation suggests replacement, not collaboration.

“The suggestion that a local authority would no longer be required to produce an improvement plan ... bypasses the importance of a local authority’s role in improvement and undermines the agreement.”

There are currently six collaboratives – led by regional lead officers – through which Scotland’s 32 local authorities will combine to support schools.

The regional lead officers are responsible for producing an improvement plan in consultation with schools and headteachers.

Scottish Government and Education Scotland officials will meet with each collaborative to support the planning process.