1. This Concordat establishes an agreed framework for co-operation between the Scottish Ministers and the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on education, training and lifelong learning. It follows the principles set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved administrations. It is intended to guide the actions of officials working on these matters in the Scottish Executive and the UK Government, in particular the Department for Education and Skills and its agents.
2. The Concordat is not intended to constrain either Scottish Ministers' freedom to operate in non-reserved or executively devolved areas, or to constrain the Secretary of State's competence in areas of reserved responsibility.
3. The Concordat is also not intended to constitute a legally enforceable contract or to create any rights or obligations which are legally enforceable. It is intended to be binding in honour only.
4. The general principles upon which this Concordat is based are the maintenance of good working relations for the mutual benefit of both parties, underpinned by good communication in both directions and the avoidance of surprises. This will assist the effective delivery of the public services for which both parties are responsible to the benefit of the users of those services.
5. This Concordat covers the following areas:
Matters within devolved competence:
- school education
- further and higher education
- HE funding of scientific and other research
- adult learning
- careers advice and guidance
- youth issues
- Millennium Volunteers
(Note: From the White Paper Scotland's Parliament (Cm 3658), paras 2.4 and 2.5; childcare, youth issues and Millennium Volunteers added as new matters developed since publication of that document)
6. The Concordat sets out a general framework applying to all these areas. Where more detailed operational arrangements are necessary additional working level agreements will be agreed between the relevant officials. These agreements will conform with this document and with the Memorandum of Understanding. A list of areas we expect will be covered by working level agreements is attached at Annex A
Consultation and Exchange of Information
7. The parties confirm their commitment to consult and exchange information on matters of mutual interest in a timely and helpful manner, in accordance with the framework set out in the Memorandum of Understanding.
8. In particular, the parties shall consult each other before exercising shared powers under section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973 (power to make arrangements for employment and training) to avoid duplication of effort and contradictory actions. (See section 56 of the Scotland Act 1998)
9. The parties confirm their commitment to provide each other with as full and open as possible access to policy information including statistics and research and, where appropriate, representations from third parties. In accordance with the framework set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, wherever practicable and reasonable, each party undertakes to provide within 15 working days any information that may be requested by the other to enable it to carry out its responsibilities effectively.
10. These arrangements will be supplemented by those in the Concordat on Statistics. In addition, the basis on which the parties will work together on statistical matters is described in the Working Level Agreement on Education Statistics.
11. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, both parties will encourage joint working, such as membership by the officials of one of working groups sponsored by the officials of the other, or regular bilateral meetings, where they agree that there are advantages for the development of policy or the delivery of services for which they are responsible.
12. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, correspondence which has to be transferred by one party to the other will be transferred within 15 working days. Within the same time, the correspondent should be told what action has been taken and who is now responsible for handling their correspondence.
13. In addition to the Concordat on Statistics, the arrangements in this concordat will be supplemented by those in the Concordat on Co-ordination of European Union Policy Issues and the Concordat on International Relations.
14. This Concordat and the functioning of bilateral relations generally, will be reviewed one year after coming into operation and every 2 years thereafter. Either party may request an additional review if they consider it necessary (for example, to propose the addition of further areas as new policies develop). Any changes made to the Concordat will be with the agreement of both parties.
Working Level Agreements
- Education Statistics.
- National Training Organisations (Sector Skills Councils), National Occupational Standards and the NVQ/SVQ framework.
- International Matters.