An open letter to Scotland’s teachers

Education Secretary outlines priorities.

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth has written to teachers, education leaders and staff across Scotland setting out her priorities for the sector.

These include reforming education for the benefit of all learners, and continuing to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

The letter reads:

To Scotland’s teachers and school leaders,

It is a great honour to have been appointed to the role of Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. As you may know, I spent a decade working in education before entering politics. I recognise first-hand how dedicated and committed our teachers and support staff are to giving our children and young people the best opportunities to succeed in life.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a sharp reminder of just how important education is to our communities. I know how challenging it was for our young people - just as I know how challenging it was for our teachers and staff in school. I want to thank you all for your hard work and professionalism throughout that time. You stepped up when Scotland’s young people needed you most. Thank you.

We need to now focus on rebuilding, together, for the benefit of Scotland’s children and young people - and I firmly believe that post-pandemic we have a unique opportunity to do so.

There are many strengths in our education system which we must use as our foundation; equally I know of the challenges that the Covid legacy has created in our classrooms and school communities. I want to work with you on how we can address those challenges and opportunities together.

Undeniably, we are at a crucial point in setting out the future through a comprehensive programme of education reform. The National Discussion on Education and the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment (Hayward Review) will conclude soon. This work includes the reform of our national bodies as we work to establish the new agencies.

These new organisations will need to work better to meet the needs of our young people - but they also need to work better to support you, our educators.

The educational landscape which existed when the Scottish Attainment Challenge launched in February 2015 is markedly different. The cost of living crisis has deepened inequity; but it further necessitates our relentless focus on closing the poverty related attainment gap.

High quality learning and teaching is crucial to help disrupt the impact of poverty in our education system. Our schools have a key role to play in driving ambition and attainment; through promoting a culture of high expectations and excellence for all. Excellent teachers are fundamental to that endeavour - I want to make sure you have the necessary support and opportunity to fulfil that expectation.

Furthermore, I am committed to delivering excellence and equity in school education through empowering and supporting our teaching profession and putting learners' needs at the centre. We will ensure that teachers and practitioners across the education system can access the high-quality support and professional learning they need. Our new national education bodies will be central to this, with clear roles and responsibilities to support this work collaboratively across the sector.

Scottish education is at an important juncture. The future for Scotland’s next generation depends on those of you who work in our education system. From our school janitors to our secretaries in school offices; from our catering staff to our Headteachers; from our classroom support assistants to our teachers - all of you make up the myriad of support provided to Scotland’s children and young people in our schools. All of you are valued.

As the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, I am committed to working with you to make sure the next steps on reform deliver real improvements, with partnership with our teaching profession as my guiding principle.

I look forward to working with you all, for the benefit of Scotland’s children and young people.


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