Reform of the SQA and Education Scotland: advisor draft remit

Sets out the agreed terms for Professor Ken Muir CBE to act as an advisor to the Scottish Government on the reform of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Scotland.

This document sets out the terms we have agreed for Professor Ken Muir CBE (the Advisor) to act as an advisor to the Scottish Government on the reform of the SQA and Education Scotland. This work will be carried out on the equivalent of four days/week alongside his role as Honorary Professor at the University of the West of Scotland.  The Principal of the University of the West of Scotland is supportive of this arrangement.


In his role as the Advisor, he will provide advice to the Scottish Government and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills on aspects of education reform.  This will include designing the implementation of the OECD’s recommendations for structural change of the SQA and Education Scotland, including delivery of the national curriculum, assessment, qualification and inspection functions.

This will include likely replacement of the SQA with a new curriculum and assessment agency. In addition, the Advisor will consider the rationale and purpose for reform as set out by Scottish Ministers, and ensure that any structural reform is designed to achieve this.

The Advisor will establish a supporting panel, to be decided in consultation with the Scottish Government and stakeholders, that will include diverse representation appropriate to the task, to include, amongst others, academia, practitioners and organisational change expertise.  The work will be undertaken with as much openness and transparency as is possible. 

The Advisor will engage widely across the education sector and will ensure in particular that the views of children, young people, families and practitioners are taken in to account.  A key objective is ensuring that we fully understand their needs, and design the education system to deliver the best possible support that is required.

The conclusions that the Advisor reaches will be taken independently of the Scottish Government and all other institutions, but will have access to SG officials and appropriate data and information.


The activities of the Advisor and panel will include:

  • leading wide engagement, including formal consultation, on the reform of SQA and Education Scotland, including key national functions in Scottish education. This will include consideration of functions relating to qualifications (including accreditation), assessment, curriculum, inspections and professional learning. This will also include advising on how best to replace SQA with a possible new curriculum and assessment agency
  • work closely with colleagues who are leading on any changes to the system of national qualifications, following the publication of the OECD report on qualifications (expected end August 2021).
  • seek the views of stakeholders, on the OECD’s proposal for the possible creation of a new curriculum and assessment body. Ensure that staff directly impacted by any changes (within Education Scotland and SQA) have the opportunity to give their views. Take account of all available evidence, including international perspectives
  • consider the needs of the different sectors of education which the agencies work with (including ELC, schools, special education, further education, and for example in the case of the SQA other training providers, employers and higher education)
  • seek and take account of appropriate specialist legal and human resources advice on the impact of any suggested structural changes.  This should include consideration of any legislative changes which may be required in relation to the SQA and Ministerial powers in relation to inspection
  • with the decision taken that the inspection function will move out of Education Scotland, advising on the purpose, remit and situation of the inspection function.
  • gathering evidence for and inputting to relevant impact assessments, including on equalities and children’s rights and wellbeing
  • advising overall on the optimal future configuration and design of functions, and how this can best be implemented
  • taking part and leading events and public engagements as necessary
  • publishing findings at the conclusion and at appropriate points during the work. This should include any advice on transitional arrangements
  • considering impacts on the wider education system in Scotland, and taking the wider context in to account, including the Scottish Government’s current ongoing review of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • make connections and consider wider policy interests and Scottish Government priorities for children and families in Scotland. This would include key priorities around closing the poverty-related attainment gap, child poverty and achieving excellence and equity through education.  This should also take account of priorities across wider services for children


The Advisor will begin this work in August 2021 and it will conclude in around 6 months after start date. The intention will be to also have the majority of the panel membership confirmed by that point.

Secretariat support

Secretariat support required by the Advisor and Panel will be provided through the Learning Directorate in Scottish Government.  This secretariat will support the Advisor in his activities, including those set out above. 

Sponsor arrangements

The Workforce, Infrastructure and Reform Division in the Learning Directorate will be the Advisor’s sponsor Division within the Scottish Government.  The named sponsor for this work will be Liza McLean, Deputy Director for Learning Workforce, Infrastructure and Reform. 

Back to top