Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment


Reforming qualifications and assessment

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills announced in October 2021 the intention to reform qualifications and assessments to ensure learners’ achievements are fairly recognised. The aim is to ensure that all senior phase learners have an enhanced and equal opportunity to demonstrate the width, depth and relevance of their learning.

This decision was influenced in part by the recommendations in the OECD’s independent review of Scotland’s school curriculum, the renewed debate around assessment following the cancellation of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and an OECD paper by Professor Gordon Stobart setting out options on Scotland’s future approach to assessment and qualifications.

Independent Review Group

The terms of reference for the IRG has been published, and a link is provided in the documents section below.

Professor Hayward has invited individuals from a range of backgrounds and experiences, including teachers and young people to join the Independent Review Group (IRG). Members of IRG are not invited to represent any group or organisation but as a link to a community.

Consultation and engagement opportunities

In addition to the IRG and CCG’s there will be further engagement opportunities including:

  • through school and college communities (every secondary school and college)
  • public engagement in different parts of Scotland

More information on these engagement opportunities will be published here shortly.


Professor Hayward will submit a report and advice to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills by the end of March 2023.

Related information



Below is a list of confirmed members of the Independent Review Group. Membership is near complete but is not final. This page will be updated with any additions to the IRG shortly.

Those for whom qualifications matter most: young people and their parents/carers

Young people

  • Beinn Grant (Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament)
  • Zainab Adeleye (Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament)


  • Cheryl Burnett, Barrie Shepperd, (NPFS)
  • Eileen Prior (Connect)

Those involved in the design, development and delivery of qualifications

Teachers and lecturers

  • Andrea Bradley
  • Peter Bain (Headteacher)
  • Andrew Findlater (Principal Teacher)

Design and development

  • Douglas Hutchison (Local government)
  • Gill Stewart (SQA)
  • Aileen Ponton (National qualifications alignment)

Informing the process: research base

  • The Process of Change - Prof Chris Chapman
  • Curriculum - Prof Mark Priestley (University of Stirling) and Dr Joe Smith - shared role
  • Qualifications - Prof Jo-Anne Baird
  • Inclusion and Equity - Dr Edward Sosu

Informing the process: policy base

  • Putting Learners at the Centre (2022) - Prof Ken Muir (University of the West of Scotland)
  • Upper-secondary education student assessment in Scotland (2021) - Prof Gordon Stobart (University of Oxford)
  • Curriculum for Excellence/Teaching Scotland’s Future - Prof Graham Donaldson (University of Glasgow)

Those who use qualifications

  • Employers - Business/industry – Tracy Black (CBI)
  • Further Education - Prof Ken Thomson (Forth Valley College)
  • Higher Education - Jonathan Powles (University West of Scotland)

* It is the intention that two additional young people will be appointed to IRG.

** There will be an IRG member from within an organisation that is responsible for the delivery of qualifications. 

Each IRG member has been asked to draw upon their in-depth knowledge of the community with whom they work most closely, and to create a Collaborative Community Group (CCG). IRG members will ensure that these groups reflect the diversity of Scotland’s communities and learners. The Collaborative Community Groups will play a vital role alongside the IRG in the review process. Further details of membership of the Collaborative Community Groups will be published on this page shortly.


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