Education (Scotland) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment

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


Qualifications Scotland

The benefits associated with the various options are considered below.

Option 1 – Do Nothing.

The ‘do nothing’ option would have seen no action taken on Professor Muir’s

report and the SQA would not be replaced.

This option would be the least disruptive option for the system, including various businesses, as SQA would continue to provide services as usual. It would also minimise the costs associated with education reform.

Option 2 - Reforming the SQA without replacing it.

Focussing on reform of the SQA, rather than replacing it, would have the benefit of being able to reprioritise some of the resource required to establish a new body towards reform initiatives. While some changes cannot be taken forward without legislation, there are some reform initiatives that could be implemented more quickly with support and cooperation from the SQA and specific activity built into their continuous improvement cycle.

There would be lower one-off programme costs than replacing the SQA with a new body. The financial cost of developing a new brand, estate fit-out and costs associated with transferring staff to a new NDPB suggests savings estimated between £525,000 - £858,000.

Other benefits include providing more certainty for staff, as well as minimising disruption to the SQA’s stakeholders regarding the delivery of services, and through the retention of the SQA brand.

Option 3 - Creation of a new Curriculum and Assessment Agency.

This option would see 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[18] and would have placed most of the national education infrastructure into one organisation.

There were some potential benefits to this option. It delivers on the OECD recommendation for consideration of a single body. A single body would support improved clarity for stakeholders by creating a single national level voice for the curriculum, qualifications, assessment and improvement that is able to collaborate effectively to align policy and services and simplify engagement for stakeholders.

Furthermore, through this collaboration, there would be potential for greater alignment between the Curriculum for Excellence and the Senior Phase, as identified by the OECD and considered in the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment.

Option 4 - SQA replaced with a new and refocused qualifications body.

Establishment of a new body would provide the greatest opportunity to support a fundamental change in approach and culture.

In addition, the use of legislation would provide a stronger basis for more effective implementation of the necessary changes once the Bill has passed. The strengthened legislative basis would provide reassurance to stakeholders, particularly for groups who would see new mechanisms established to ensure their views feed into decision making, and for awarding bodies and other businesses in the post-school sector in terms of the improved separation of accreditation and awarding functions.

The key benefits of this option would be that it implements a key recommendation from the OECD Review[19] and the Muir Review[20] relating to simplifying institutions in Scotland’s education system and replacing the SQA. A new body ensures the organisation is able to reset relationships with learners and other stakeholders, particularly in terms of new ways of meaningfully influencing decision-making of the organisation. With the awarding and accreditation functions being part of the same organisation, albeit with operational boundaries, there will the opportunity for the body to benefit from financial and operational efficiencies, such as shared corporate services and digital integration.

Qualifications Scotland will be able to build on some of the existing positive relationships SQA has with business, such as employers, industry sectors, awarding bodies and training providers in a way that aligns with reform principles of ensuring our national education bodies are open, collaborative, communicative and accountable to those in the system they are designed to serve.

Furthermore, part of the design criteria for Qualifications Scotland is that the organisation will be financially sustainable. The decision to allow the new body to charge for its services, as SQA does now, will support its fiscal sustainability. The ability to sell services to businesses will support a flourishing and active qualifications market and provide opportunity for learners, employers and industry to enhance their own outputs and services through increased access to qualifications, training and skills development.

Office of HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland

Option 1 ('Do Nothing').

This option would minimise disruption and cost associated with the programme of education reform. This option would be the least disruptive as Education Scotland would continue to provide inspection services as usual. It would also minimise the costs associated with education reform.

Option 2 - Inspectorate function moving to a new separate Executive Agency.

Reinstating HMIE as a distinct executive agency would clearly separate the operations of the improvement agency and the inspection function. It would also offer the opportunity to clearly set out the relationship between it and core Government, through a framework agreement, though it would be closer to Government than in option 3.

Option 3 - Establishment of a new inspectorate body.

The empowering, flexible legislative underpinning being sought for the HM Chief Inspector gives rise to the opportunities Professor Muir sets out in his report[21], including ‘opportunity to demystify the inspection process and make it more transparent, for example by ensuring inspectors have greater direct engagement and professional dialogue with teachers, practitioners and schools’. Further, there is the opportunity for the new independent body to explore (with stakeholders and learners) different models of inspection, including digital approaches. This may bring further benefit to businesses if the number of inspections increases.



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