Education governance – next steps

Scottish Government’s vision for education and the reforms we will take forward following the review of education governance.

1. Introduction

Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of this Government.

There is a strong and shared commitment to the vision of excellence and equity for all children and young people across Scottish education as set out in the National Improvement Framework:

  • excellence through raising attainment: ensuring that every child achieves the highest standards in literacy and numeracy, set out within Curriculum for Excellence levels, and the right range of skills, qualifications and achievements to allow them to succeed; and
  • achieving equity: ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Within this broad overall vision the National Improvement Framework is galvanising efforts to align our collective improvement activities across the whole education system, to address our key priorities:

  • improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
  • closing the attainment gap between the least and most disadvantaged children; and
  • improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school leaver destinations for all young people.

This Government was elected to deliver a range of reforms to help us transform education in Scotland to ensure it delivers excellence and equity for all. We published our Delivery Plan for Scottish education in June 2016 [21] . The focus of the plan is on action around three core aims - to close the attainment gap, to ensure we have a curriculum that delivers, and to empower our teachers, schools and communities.

Since then, we have taken strong and decisive action to address each of these core aims. This includes £120 million per annum Pupil Equity Funding direct to schools as part of the £750 million investment over this Parliamentary term to close the poverty-related attainment gap, supported by well-evidenced strategies of what works.

Our focus on closing the attainment gap and improving the life chances of children and young people extends beyond education. Evidence suggests that:

"…even if we found all the factors that make schools more or less effective, we would still not be able to affect more than 30 percent of the variance in pupils' outcomes. It has therefore become increasingly clear that a narrow focus on the school as an institution will not be sufficient to enable work on more equitable educational outcomes to progress … Interventions will need to impact more directly on pupils' environment and life chances". [22]

We recognise that tackling the attainment gap will also require us to tackle deep seated, multigenerational, deprivation, poverty and inequalities. The Fairer Scotland Action Plan [23] sets out the range of actions we are taking to do so across a number of key areas, and makes clear our commitment to eradicating child poverty.

We have also listened to what teachers have told us and are delivering greater clarity about Curriculum for Excellence through the definitive advice published by the Chief Inspector of Education in August 2016 and the subsequent publication of benchmarks for each curriculum area.

We are also tackling bureaucracy and workload by reducing the burden of assessment, both on teachers and on young people, through changes to the National Qualifications.

This Governance Review is central to our aim of empowering our teachers, schools, parents and communities to deliver the necessary changes in our education system.

The review has considered the organising system of early learning and childcare and school education. The role and functions of national government, local government and national bodies which govern, lead and support the delivery of education were all within scope of the review. A significant period of consultation took place between September 2016 and January 2017 with 1,154 written responses being received and almost 700 individuals taking part in consultation events across the country. We have also drawn on evidence from the OECD, the International Council of Education Advisers and other international evidence to inform our thinking.

Many responses to the Governance Review consultation argued against the need for change within the education system [24] . This Government has considered these views, along with the current performance in Scottish education, and has reflected on the commitments given to the public at the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016. We cannot accept the erosion of educational improvement capacity within the system and the proposals in this document seek to halt and reverse that trend. We believe this is the moment to undertake reforms focused on delivering improvements in education and empowering our teaching professionals to be the key drivers of improved outcomes for our children.

Our work is closely aligned to the drivers of improvement outlined in the National Improvement Framework:

  • school leadership;
  • teacher professionalism;
  • parental engagement;
  • assessment of children's progress;
  • school improvement; and
  • performance improvement.

National Improvement Framework

We believe teachers are best placed, with support from communities and parents, to drive educational improvement for our children. The organising system of education must be focussed on providing the most effective framework for teachers to work within. We also recognise that any framework must be supported by a culture of leadership and collaboration, building capacity for improvement in the system, data on children's progress, and clear accountability structures.

Our reforms will put children and young people at the heart of school education. We remain guided by the principles set out in our consultation, that our education system must:

  • be focussed on improving outcomes, and support the delivery of excellence and equity for all children and young people;
  • meet the needs of all of our children and young people, no matter where they live or their family circumstances;
  • support and empower children and young people, parents, teachers, practitioners and communities;
  • be supported by a fair and transparent funding system to ensure the maximum public benefit and best value for money; and
  • support children and young people to make smooth transitions into formal learning, through school and into further education, training or employment.

This paper sets out our plans for education governance reform that will empower schools to deliver excellence and equity for the benefit of every child and young person in Scotland.

Following this introductory chapter, this paper is organised in four further chapters. Chapter 2 sets out the case for change, drawing on the Governance Review consultation and a range of additional international evidence. Chapter 3 sets out our plans to deliver a school and teacher-led system and the actions which will empower teachers, practitioners, headteachers, parents and communities to ensure that the vast majority of decisions that support learning and teaching are made at school level. Chapter 4 sets out the education improvement and support there will be at school, local, regional and national level including our approach to funding to support the new system. Chapter 5 summarises the actions we will take to deliver a school and teacher-led system.


Email: Stephanie Gray

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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