Education (Scotland) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment

The business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) for the Education (Scotland) Bill.

Purpose and Intended Effect


The Education (Scotland) Bill is in two parts. Part 1 establishes a new qualifications body, to be known as Qualifications Scotland, to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Part 2 establishes the office of His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland, removing these functions from Education Scotland.

Qualifications Scotland will be set up as a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), including appropriate governance arrangements and statutory functions. As an operationally independent organisation, the provisions set out the basis for how Qualifications Scotland is governed and how it will be able to operate. The operational detail is being developed in parallel as part of the design of the new body, and once established, operational decisions will be the responsibility of Qualifications Scotland.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Education in Scotland will be responsible for the statutory functions of inspection of education provision, in Scotland. The Chief Inspector will lead a new independent education inspectorate, to take forward the education inspection functions that currently sit within Education Scotland. The Bill sets out the governance arrangements and statutory functions necessary in relation to the full range of educational establishments and services currently inspected, from early learning and childcare to adult learning. The operational detail is being developed in parallel as part of the design of the new body, and once established, operational decisions will be the responsibility of the Chief Inspector.

The objectives of the Education (Scotland) Bill are to provide the legal underpinning to support the design and delivery of a national organisational infrastructure for education in Scotland that more effectively supports the system, to deliver the vision for education in Scotland. The intention is to support the right balance of responsibility and autonomy between the different parts of the education system, including national and local government, national education bodies and schools, colleges and other places of learning. It is part of the holistic approach to education reform reflecting a clear expectation that all elements of the education and skills system will work together as one single system that has a collective responsibility to deliver for learners of all ages.

The education and skills reform being taken forward by the Scottish Government aims to reshape the ways in which the Scottish Government supports improvement in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and achieve improved outcomes and experiences for pupils and students in every setting.

Rationale for Government intervention

New Qualifications Body

The SQA was established under the Education (Scotland) Act 1996[1] as a national awarding body responsible for the development, delivery, assessment, quality assurance and awarding of all types of qualifications except university degrees. The 1996 Act also gave the SQA responsibility for accrediting qualifications being offered by other awarding bodies.

The decision to replace the SQA with a new public body responsible for qualifications was announced by Scottish Minsters in June 2021 alongside the Scottish Government’s response to the OECD Review of the Curriculum for Excellence[2]. A further commitment was given in March 2022 in response to the report by Professor Ken Muir, “Putting Learners at the Centre. Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education[3].” These reports followed previous reports and reviews by Scottish Parliament Committees (Education and Culture, 2015, Education and Skills, 2017) and a Scottish Government White Paper, “Education Governance – Next Steps” (2017)[4]. These contained recommendations and objectives on and around creating a school and teacher-led system that put children and young people at its centre, including the need for improvement in the role and focus of the respective national bodies.

New Inspectorate In June 2021, the then Cabinet Secretary announced that the inspection function would be removed from Education Scotland[5].

Professor Muir’s report[6] included his view that having an inspection function within the same body charged with supporting improvement (Education Scotland) created potential conflicts of interest and compromised the organisation’s ability to perform both roles well.

The Scottish Government announced in March 2022[7] that Education Scotland would be replaced by a new national agency for education (which does not require legislation) and an independent inspectorate. This decision was in line with the views expressed by many respondents to Professor Muir’s public consultation[8] and in the engagements that he held, as reported in his findings.



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