Education (Scotland) Bill: island communities impact assessment

Island communities impact assessment (ICIA) for the Education (Reform) Bill.


In 2020, the Scottish Ministers commissioned a review to be undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to help better understand how the curriculum is being designed and implemented in schools in Scotland, and to identify areas for improvement.

In June 2021, the OECD report ‘Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future’, commented that having the inspectorate as part of an organisation that is also responsible for supporting school leaders, curriculum design and support, teacher professional learning and a range of other initiatives is an “unusual configuration”.

The then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills subsequently appointed an independent advisor, Professor Ken Muir in August 2021[1] to engage widely with stakeholders and report findings and recommendations to the Scottish Government on the implementation of the OECD’s recommendations.

Professor Muir’s report, Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education, was published in March 2022 and 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 then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills announced in March 2022 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 and in the engagements that he held, as reported in his findings.

In addition to a targeted consultation with key stakeholders in early 2023, a public consultation on the proposed content of the Bill was undertaken between 7 November and 18 December 2023 which included seeking views on the purpose and priorities of education inspection, and on options for taking forward a new approach to inspection, whether that be to establish the inspectorate as a separate Executive Agency or by establishing the role of HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland as an office-holder in legislation.

Whilst there was no clear consensus on this point, among those who supported the appointment of an independent officeholder, many commented that legislation would make accountability and independence more obvious and more stringent which, in turn, could maximise public and professional confidence in the inspection process.

Of the almost 400 responses to this consultation, five were from local authorities or other groups based in, or with an interest in, the islands. There were targeted questions as well as open questions where respondents could raise any other concerns or issues. Nothing arose from this consultation to suggest that the impact on the island communities would be different to the rest of Scotland. As part of the consultation process, there were a number of online engagement events with stakeholders. As with the main consultation, nothing emerged from these events to suggest that there would be a different impact of the Bill on the islands.



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