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Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education

The work of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education has now concluded.

The Scottish Government Response to the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education was published on 13 June 2013 - this was accompanied by a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament.

The Report of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education was published on 19 April 2013.

A Gaelic translation of the report's introduction and recommendations is available.

Read Sheriff Sutherland's statement, and view the Scottish Government and COSLA


The Commission, chaired by Sheriff David Sutherland, was tasked with examining how the delivery of rural education can maximise the attainment and life chances of young people in rural areas, and the link between rural education and rural communities.

The Commission also reviewed the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 and its application and made 38 recommendations on the delivery of all aspects of education in rural areas.

The Commission issued a Call for Evidence to allow all interested parties to provide written evidence, this closed on 12 January 2012.

The Commission also took oral evidence from communities and through a programme of school visits and public meetings across 12 local authority areas. 

The Commission on Rural Education was established jointly by Scottish Government and COSLA.

The Commission's work was due to be completed in August 2012. Regrettably, the Commission agreed in June 2012 that its report should be delayed to take into account a forthcoming Appeal in the Court of Session that was relevant to the operation of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.  This was heard in November 2012, and a judgement received on 6 February 2013.  This judgement provided a very helpful opinion on the 2010 Act, a key part of the Commission's remit, and allowed the Commission to conclude its work and publish its Report on 19 April 2013. 


The Commission had the following remit:

  • To review the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 and its application; and
  • To examine how the delivery of rural education can maximize attainment and outcomes to give pupils the best life chances, and to examine, where appropriate, how this can be applied more widely; and
  • To make recommendations on how to reflect best practice on the delivery of all aspects education in rural areas (pre-school through to higher & further education); and
  • To examine the links between rural education and the preservation, support and development of rural communities and to make recommendations on how these links might be strengthened if necessary; and
  • To examine and make recommendations on funding issues surrounding rural education.
Output and timescales
  • The Commission began its work on 1 August 2011 and submitted its final report and recommendations to Scottish Ministers and COSLA in April 2013.
Guiding principles
  • The Commission’s work shall be inclusive with all key stakeholders being given the opportunity to contribute and provide evidence.
  • The Review’s recommendations shall be underpinned by hard evidence, therefore, the Commission will be expected to look at relevant evidence from home and abroad in shaping its conclusions.
  • In achieving this, the Commission shall have licence to think radically about achieving national and local  governments’ commitments in this area.
  • The Commission shall make recommendations which are consistent with and facilitate the delivery of the Government’s National Outcomes.
  • Following presentation and acceptance of the Commission’s final report and recommendations, the Government and COSLA will work in partnership to help secure their successful implementation.