Education Bill policy ambition: joint agreement

A joint agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA on school empowerment, collaboration, parental involvement and engagement and pupil participation.

Appendix B: Education Bill Policy Ambition – Joint Agreement

Measures and enablers to promote school empowerment

The Scottish Government, COSLA, SOLACE, ADES and Education Scotland are committed to creating the conditions for school empowerment. The second meeting of the group reached collective agreement that the following enablers and measures will support and encourage the empowerment of schools in Scotland. Empowering schools will help us accelerate progress in achieving excellence and equity for children and young people across Scotland. The agreed actions below will ensure appropriate checks and balance to empower schools and deliver improved outcomes for Scotland’s children.

School level


  • There will be new co-produced guidance for schools on what good looks like in an empowered school sector, along with accessible tools for school leaders, parents and pupils
  • Schools will be encouraged to self-evaluate their approaches in light of the Headteachers’ Charter, parental engagement and pupil participation to deliver improved outcomes
  • The annual Professional Review and Development process will provide an important opportunity to reflect on increased empowerment for all headteachers [and teachers], and the ways in which decisions have been made in collaboration with staff, parents and pupils
  • The update of the Standards for Leadership and Management by the General Teaching Council for Scotland is an opportunity to reflect empowered school leadership.
  • The professional learning and leadership offer for school leaders will be enhanced at national, regional and local level to build understanding of empowerment

Action and scrutiny:

  • Schools to continue to design their curriculum to meet the needs of young people in their community
  • Schools and Local Authorities to access and participate in peer to peer support within Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • From August 2018 onwards Education Scotland will inspect school empowerment through the Leadership of Change quality improvement indicator in How Good Is Our School 4
  • Education Scotland will deliver three new focus reviews in 2018-19 academic year looking at the following themes: readiness for empowerment; curriculum leadership; parent and pupil participation
  • This programme will be outlined in Education Scotland's Annual Programme to be published in June 2018

Local authority level


  • System Leadership: There will be a new mechanism to support and challenge local authorities on their delivery of the joint agreement. COSLA/ ADES/ SOLACE/ ES will facilitate a peer review and challenge process that will draw evidence from inspection, self-evaluation and other data sources (including headteacher, parent and pupil feedback) and reflect current improvement frameworks e.g. How Good is our Council or PSIF
  • A partnership approach/improvement team would be instigated ( COSLA/ ADES/ SOLACE/ ES) to enhance capacity to enable improvement at pace
  • Local authorities will reflect school empowerment consistently throughout their strategic planning during 2018-19 (e.g. Integrated Children’s Service Plans; Local Outcome Improvement Plans; and local National Improvement Framework plans)
  • Local authority professional learning programmes for school leaders will reflect the joint agreement

Action and scrutiny

  • Education Scotland and partners will develop a self-evaluation framework for local authorities to review progress towards an empowered system
  • During the academic year 2018-19, local authorities will complete the self-evaluation of school empowerment in the local area
  • Local authority annual National Improvement Framework reports will reflect school empowerment as a key theme from 2018 onwards

Regional level


  • Regional Improvement Collaboratives will develop and share models of best practice in empowerment and effective decision making within the regional context
  • Regional Improvement Collaboratives will take action to increase pupil and parent participation in learning
  • Education Scotland will further develop their core offer of support to Regional Improvement Collaboratives and therefore to schools over this academic year.

Action and scrutiny

  • Headteachers across Regional Improvement Collaboratives will evaluate and feedback on levels of headteacher empowerment
  • Regional Improvement Collaboratives will promote and develop teacher voice and agency at regional level e.g. through regional teacher panels

National level


  • There will be further collective work to develop joint guidance to support the implementation of the joint agreement on Headteachers’ Charter, Regional Improvement Collaboratives, Parental Engagement and Pupil Participation.
  • Education Scotland will enhance its national offer in relation to curriculum, pedagogy and leadership
  • The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers will be asked to develop a Code of Practice on the headteacher role in selection and appointment of staff
  • The GTCS’s Review of Professional Standards will reflect empowered, collaborative teachers and school leaders
  • SCEL will enhance the leadership support packages to build capacity and confidence in the system (e.g. Into Headship and Excellence in Headship)

Action and scrutiny

  • Education Scotland will report termly on the new focus reviews on school empowerment
  • The annual National Improvement Framework report will draw together evidence from the focus reviews, school self-evaluation and inspection and local authority self-evaluation
  • An evaluation strategy will be developed by August 2018 to review the impact of the school empowerment
  • The Teacher Panel will feed back the views of the profession on progress towards an empowered system
  • National scrutiny bodies, where appropriate, will reflect implementation of the joint agreement when agreeing Local Scrutiny Plans through Local Area Networks.


All partners recognise the importance of effective support and intervention where the evidence suggests that further action is needed to ensure excellence and equity for young people. A suite of intervention and support options will be developed and agreed as part of the next phase of the work. This will reflect the principles of an empowered system, with a strong emphasis on peer-to-peer support and challenge, and will draw on the following evidence sources:

  • Feedback from school leaders
  • School and local authority self-evaluations
  • Inspection reports
  • National Improvement Framework report
  • Use of improvement data to spot trends and potential issues - e.g. through SEEMIS and Summary Statistics on Scottish Schools.

Where evidence suggests there is cause for concern, the following approaches will be deployed as appropriate:

  • Concerns will be shared with all partners
  • The SNCT will collectively address concerns if there is evidence of non-compliance by local authorities with the Code of Practice on staff selection
  • COSLA will facilitate challenge and support drawing in expertise from ADES/ ES and others. This will include evidence review and challenge sessions leading to a clear action plan, offer of peer support and follow-up activity to monitor impact and improvement
  • Evaluation of progress
  • Clear line of escalation to audit and scrutiny inspection bodies if insufficient progress


Back to top