Empowering Schools consultation: analysis of responses

Independent analysis of the responses to the Empowering Schools consultation which ran from 7 November 2017 until 30 January 2018.


1. In December 2015 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) published its report 'Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective'. In September 2017, building on advice from the OECD and the International Council of Education Advisers, responses to the Education Governance Review and the commitments set out in the Next Steps paper, the First Minister committed to a new Education Bill to deliver a number of reforms. The primary focus of this Bill is to create a school- and teacher-led education system that will empower schools and school leaders.

2. The consultation sought views on a Headteachers' Charter that will set out the rights and responsibilities of headteachers that will empower them to be the leaders of learning and teaching in their schools. This Charter will support rather than replace some elements of the existing legislative framework such as the duties placed on local authorities and headteachers through Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) legislation. It is also intended that the Bill will improve parental and community engagement in school life and in learning outside of school and strengthen the voice of children and young people by actively promoting and supporting pupil participation. The Bill will provide the legislative framework underpinning the establishment of Regional Improvement Collaboratives ( RICs) to allow them to meet their agreed functions. Finally, the Bill will enable registration of other education professionals with the Education Workforce Council, which will be established to take on the responsibilities of the General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS) and the Community Learning and Development Standards Council ( CLDSC).

3. From 7 November 2017 to 30 January 2018, a consultation paper – 'Empowering Schools: A consultation on the Provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill' – invited views on a range of issues, including: a Headteachers' Charter, parental and community engagement, pupil participation, Regional Improvement Collaboratives and an Education Workforce Council for Scotland.

4. In addition to offering respondents an opportunity to respond to this consultation, individuals from the Learning Directorate at the Scottish Government also conducted a small number of engagement events with the teaching profession, professional organisations, parental organisations and those representing children and children's services. These were intended to encourage responses to the consultation and to identify key themes likely to emerge in consultation responses.

Respondent Profile

5. Overall, there were 674 responses to the consultation: 307 from organisations and 367 from individuals. There were also responses to one campaign, which attracted 196 submissions of their standard text.

6. Respondents were assigned to respondent groupings to enable analysis of any differences or commonalities across or within the various different types of organisations and individuals that responded. Table 1 below shows the numbers of responses in each assigned category.

Table 1: Respondent Groups

Parent Council / Forum 103
Local Authority 42
Professional association / group 35
Independent / 3rd sector 35
School 25
Representative organisation 13
Further Education / Higher Education 11
Professional learning 7
Other education 17
Other organisation 19
Total organisations 307
Individuals 367
Total respondents 674

7. A list of all those organisations that submitted a response to the consultation and agreed to have their name published is included in Appendix 1.


8. The majority of responses to the consultation were submitted using the Scottish Government consultation platform Citizen Space.

9. It should be borne in mind that the number responding at each question is not always the same as the number presented in the respondent group table. This is because not all respondents addressed all questions; some commented only on those questions or sections of relevance to their organisation, sector or field of interest. The report indicates the number of respondents who commented at each question.

10. A small number of respondents did not use the consultation questionnaire and, instead, presented their views in a report or letter format. Wherever possible, researchers assigned relevant sections of these documents to the relevant questions.

11. Some of the consultation questions contained closed, tick-boxes with specific options to choose from. The findings from these are presented at each relevant question in tabular form and detail the number of respondents providing a definitive 'yes / no' response, the number saying 'don't know' and the number opting not to provide a response. Although numbers have been included in the tables relating to the tick box questions, this should not be taken to indicate that this was a survey, nor that the sample responding is representative of a wider population. Across responses to these questions, significant numbers of respondents – often around half the respondents – did not offer an opinion. Where comments were made by respondents, they often focused on concerns and queries.

12. The researchers examined all comments made by respondents and noted the range of issues mentioned in responses, including reasons for opinions, specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions or other comments. Grouping these issues together into similar themes allowed the researchers to identify whether any particular theme was specific to any particular respondent group or groups.

13. A wide range of differing opinions were cited throughout responses, with no clear consensus on many of the proposals. In general, small or very small proportions of respondents (10% or less) made specific comments to the open questions.

14. When looking at group differences however, it must be borne in mind that where a specific opinion has been identified in relation to a particular group or groups, this does not indicate that other groups did not share this opinion, but rather that they simply did not comment on that particular point.

15. While the consultation gave all who wished to comment an opportunity to do so, given the self-selecting nature of this type of exercise, any figures quoted here cannot be extrapolated to a wider population outwith the respondent sample.


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