Education reform

Improving outcomes for children and young people.

The views of teachers, parents and pupils will be central to Scotland’s education reforms following a review of the school curriculum.

The Scottish Government has accepted in full all 12 recommendations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Organisation (OECD) report and has published how it intends to take them forward.  

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has announced the Scottish Education Council will be reconvened. The Council will have a refreshed membership, including young people, and a renewed purpose to support the delivery of the OECD’s recommendations.

A new Children and Young People’s Education Council will also be created to ensure that the voices of those who are most affected by any changes in education are always heard in strategic discussions.

Professor Ken Muir CBE, who was until recently Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, will lead work to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) with a new specialist agency for both curriculum and assessment.

Professor Muir and an advisory panel will also look at reforms to Education Scotland, including removing the function of inspection from the agency.

Ms Somerville said:

“We must ensure that our children and young people can fully benefit from a coherent learning experience from age three up to the age of 18.

“I am absolutely committed to putting the voices of young people, parents, teachers and schools right at the centre of our education policy.

“All of the changes we make will be guided by the central principle that they improve the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in Scotland’s education system.

“The Scottish Government will work alongside all partners to co-design a more detailed implementation plan on the OECD’s recommendations, with a view to publishing this in September.”

A statement on behalf of the SQA, Education Scotland and Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) said:

“We welcome the OECD report and its endorsement of the continued relevance and ambition of Curriculum for Excellence.

“This review is a positive opportunity to secure improvement in a range of areas, and will help all of us in Scotland to look at what we want from our curriculum in the longer term, and what we need to do to achieve this.

“We share a common commitment to working together to implement the recommendations of the report and to ensure that the curriculum contributes as effectively as possible to the education and development of all young people in Scotland.”

Professor Muir said:

“Education systems across the world are changing as the world in which we live changes. I look forward to engaging widely with all stakeholders as part of my work.

“I want to understand fully their needs and listen to their suggestions on how we build on current strengths and how we might re-imagine, design and implement reforms into our education system that will truly respond to the future needs of every community and every child and young person.”

The Education Secretary intends to outline plans for awarding national qualifications in 2022 by the start of the new school term this August, taking into account the most up-to-date position with the pandemic.


Further consideration of changes to the qualifications and assessment system will be heavily informed by the next OECD report, expected by the end of August.

Pupils taking national qualifications this year and next will not be affected.  

Curriculum for Excellence: Scottish Government response to OECD Review

Reform of the SQA and Education Scotland: advisor draft remit

OECD review backs school curriculum - (



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