International Council of Education Advisers

Pedagogy, leadership and collaboration key to successful reform.

Scotland should prioritise three areas for action as it takes forward reforms to make its education system world class, the International Council of Education Advisers has told ministers.

The council conducted two days of discussion around its three main themes – what works educationally to close the equity gap; capacity building in education leadership; and building collaboration and collective responsibility in Scottish education.

Following the conclusion of the meeting in Edinburgh, the ICEA confirmed it would bring forward specific recommendations as to how excellence and equity can be strengthened in Scotland’s schools. These recommendations will be in three priority areas:

  • Improving pedagogy for specific subjects, using clear evidence to identify what works in the classroom
  • Developing effective leadership at all levels in Scottish education– unleashing untapped potential within the system
  • Ensuring a culture of collaboration exists throughout Scottish education, at classroom, school, regional and national level.

The ICEA will now provide an initial report to ministers, setting out the detailed actions it believes will help the Scottish Government deliver excellence and equity in Scotland’s schools.

In a joint statement, members of the ICEA, said:

"Scotland’s education system has a lot of strengths; however it is clear that if you want to build a world class system, further improvement is required.

“We have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet students, teachers and headteachers during our programme offering us their valuable insights into their experiences within Scottish schools.

“We share the aspiration that all of Scotland’s young people should be able to fulfil their potential and not be held back by disadvantage or poverty.

“All of the actions we will now report to the Scottish Government will be focused on how the talent and capacity of everyone involved in Scotland’s education system can be harnessed to remove those obstacles and deliver wider improvement.

“In particular, we have identified three crucial areas that should be central to the reforms: Improving pedagogy, expanding leadership capacity and delivering increased collaboration at all levels in the education system. These areas will be absolutely crucial if Scotland wants to achieve the ambitions it has to create a world class education system.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

"I would like to thank the ICEA for giving their time to offer invaluable expertise and a wide range of perspectives on how we can deliver excellence and equity in Scotland’s schools.

“Scotland is very fortunate to have access to such a valuable resource and the discussions over two days have been enlightening, challenging and hugely productive as we consider how to make the changes we need to the education system.

"Central to our discussions has been how we can best empower our teachers to do what they do best – teach our children and focus on raising attainment in the classroom. I am confident the recommendations the ICEA will bring forward will help us in those endeavours, deliver better teaching, improve leadership and drive collaboration in schools.”


The International Council of Education Advisers was established in 2016 to advise ministers on how best to achieve excellence and equity in the Scottish education system.

The ten members have extensive experience advising educators and governments on education leadership, school improvement and reform in countries including the US, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Malaysia, Australia and the UK.

The first meeting of the council outlined three key themes for its work: Capacity building in educational leadership and professional learning; building collaboration and collective responsibility in Scottish education; and what works educationally to close the equity gap.

Pictures of the meeting are available on flickr.


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