Hayward review published

Considering the future of qualifications and assessment.

The views of teachers will be key to Scotland’s education reform journey, Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth has said, as a major report on qualifications and assessment is published.

Professor Louise Hayward's report following her Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment (IRQA) recommends reform of the current senior school phase, including the creation of a new Scottish Diploma of Achievement (SDA).

The report, along with the recent Withers Review of the Skills System and National Discussion on Education, sets out the case for significant change across the sector. The Scottish Government will now consider the recommendations made in these reports and respond in due course.

Ms Gilruth said:

“I am very grateful to Professor Hayward and members of the review group for the time and effort they have given to bring this report together.

“These recommendations for reform could amount to a radical shift in Scottish education. As Cabinet Secretary I need to be certain that these changes are the right ones for Scotland’s young people – and I am determined that the voices of teachers will be central to this process.

“Scotland has a proud educational tradition – the challenge now is to build on that success and deliver reform which ensures we have a coherent education and skills system that supports children and young people to reach their potential.

“Ultimately we must judge everything we do by those criteria. I will work together across parties to improve educational outcomes – this is a prize worth striving for, to ensure we get this right for the next generation.”

Key recommendations of the Hayward report include:

  • adopting the SDA (Scottish Diploma of Achievement) as a graduation certificate for all senior phase educational settings
  • the end of exams in S4 and a wider range of assessment methods used in Highers and Advanced Highers
  • a digital profile for all learners which allows them to record personal achievements, identify and plan future learning

Professor Hayward said:

"This report offers the potential to provide learners with a more valuable senior phase experience, teachers with the resources to do the job properly and colleges, employers and universities with better information about learners' achievements.

“It would not have been possible without the support and hard work of the Independent Review Group and the vital contributions from schools, colleges, universities, employers, parents, and young people from across the county.

“I’d like to thank them all for their assistance and taking the time to support the work.”


The Scottish Government's detailed response to the IRQA will be considered alongside wider reform activity being taken forward following the National Discussion , the Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape , the forthcoming Purpose and Principles for Post-School Education, Research and Skills, and establishment of the new national education bodies.

 The SDA would be awarded to school leavers when achievements are recognised in each of three elements. The Programmes of Learning element would focus on individual courses, while the Project Learning would focus on learning in practice and may look at areas such as climate change, migration or artificial intelligence while the Personal Pathway would allow a learner to reflect on learning through social, cultural, economic and well-being perspectives. 

Legislation to establish new education bodies will be introduced only after Ministers have considered the findings of recent reviews, though work continues in this area.  Recruitment for a new chair of the Scottish Qualifications Authority will begin shortly. Recruitment for a independent HM Chief Inspector of Education will also be progressed.

The IRQA was commissioned and announced in October 2021 by the then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville.


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