Education (Scotland) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment

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


The options considered, and the decisions taken for both Qualifications Scotland and HM Chief Inspector were informed by Professor Muir’s consultation activity and report, along with a selection of key criteria to understand how each option would deliver on the following:

  • Efficiency, flexibility, and user focus
  • Simplicity, coherence, and stability
  • Alignment with vision and outcomes
  • Governance, accountability and autonomy
  • Affordability, resources and risk

Qualifications Scotland

In respect of the new qualifications body, and as part of the Scottish Government’s assessment of Professor Muir’s report[15], four options were considered:

Option 1

A ‘do nothing’ option was considered. This would have seen no action taken on Professor Muir’s report and the SQA would not be reformed or replaced.

Option 2

The option of reforming the SQA without replacing it was considered. This option would see the SQA brand retained, with the identified areas for reform taken forward and built into their existing continuous improvement work.

Option 3

A new curriculum and assessment agency was considered. This would have seen a single body created to oversee the functions currently delivered by the SQA and some of the functions currently delivered by Education Scotland. This would have taken forward part of the OECD’s recommendation and would have placed most of the national education infrastructure into one organisation.

Option 4

This would see the SQA replaced with a dedicated and focused new qualifications body responsible for the development and awarding of qualifications. The Scottish Government decided this option would enable the establishment of a new public body which best supports the overall desired vision for the Scottish education system. The development of the new body would provide an opportunity to define and refocus its activities, relationships and interaction with the broader education and skills system. Following the Scottish Government’s decision to locate the accreditation function in the new qualifications body, this option would ensure strengthened and separate governance arrangements were embedded in the new body from the outset.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland

In respect of the new inspectorate body three options were considered.

Option 1

Do nothing – this option would see the inspectorate function remaining within Education Scotland. The same body would therefore remain responsible for the improvement of education in schools, whilst also being accountable for assuring education standards in a range of institutions. This could reinforce the perceived conflict of interest, and risks undermining confidence in the judgements of HM Inspectors. Such an approach was therefore discounted.

Option 2

This option would see the inspectorate function move to a new separate executive agency, which would therefore still form part of the Scottish Government. The public consultation[16] revealed mixed views from stakeholders on whether the inspectorate should remain within government or have a greater level of independence. No clear themes emerged, with several respondents commenting on what they perceived to be the strengths and weaknesses of each option. However, there was also strong support for the idea that whichever approach was adopted, the new agencies/new officeholder must have a degree of independence from government. Establishing a new executive agency was therefore considered an unsuitable approach as it would not provide the level of independence being sought.

Option 3

This involves removing the inspectorate function from Education Scotland and establishing a completely new independent inspectorate (as recommended by Professor Muir in his report[17]). This option would see the establishment of a new inspectorate body with its independence enshrined in legislation. Its governance would reflect this independence, with the body funded by the Scottish Government, staffed by civil servants and inspectors, the latter of which would be appointed with the approval of His Majesty via the Privy Council.

This option was chosen as it would ensure the independence of the inspectorate from the Scottish Government.



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