Education Reform: Expert Panel - terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Education Reform: Expert Panel group.


The Expert Panel will play a key role in supporting the Advisor to the Scottish Government on aspects of education reform. This will include designing the implementation of the OECD’s recommendations for structural and functional change of SQA and Education Scotland. It will include the delivery of the national curriculum, assessment, qualification and inspection functions, and recognise and include the wider functions of both these bodies. 


The purpose of the Expert Panel is to provide expertise, advice and support to the Advisor and help ensure that full consideration is given to all aspects of the Advisor’s remit and the wider themes and recommendations set out in the OECD report. The Panel will be chaired by Professor Ken Muir.

Membership and ways of working

Membership of the Expert Panel is below. The Panel is not designed to be representative of stakeholders in the education system. Panel members have been invited on the basis of the expertise they hold and the broad contribution they can therefore make to the reform work. This includes their national and international experience and expertise on educational and organisational change.

As the work of the Advisor and Expert Panel progresses, they will interact directly and have close and regular engagement with:

  • Education Scotland
  • SQA
  • relevant staff unions and teachers’ professional associations

It is also expected that members of the Expert Panel will be available to attend a number of engagement events that will be scheduled with other bodies to seek their views and insights on the reform.

The Expert Panel will be further supported by an extensive Practitioner and Stakeholder Advisory Group. This will comprise organisations, including staff unions and professional associations, that represent the following diverse range of interests related to the reform - children and young people; local authorities; employers; the tertiary sector; practitioners across different sectors and providers; and parental interests. The expertise of Advisory Group members, and the broad variety of specialist networks they can access, will ensure that as full a range of perspectives and ideas inform the Expert Panel and the overall reform work.

It is expected that the Advisor and Expert Panel will seek views on the reform of Education Scotland and replacement of SQA, including key national functions in Scottish education, and share emerging findings with existing parts of the governance and other groups in Scottish education, including:

  • The Scottish Education Council
  • The Children and Young Person’s Education Council
  • Curriculum and Assessment Board
  • Strategic Board for Teacher Education
  • Teachers’ Panel
  • Regional Improvement Collaborative’s Strategic Group
  • Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group
  • Children’s Parliament
  • ADES Directors’ Forum
  • Solace Chief Executives’ Forum
  • COSLA Leaders
  • COSLA Children and Young People’s Board
  • The Royal Society Edinburgh

Panel members will be encouraged to engage their own wider networks as appropriate, however in the interests of the free and frank exchange of views panel members may be asked to handle certain information sensitively.

Proposed format and operation

Members of the Expert Panel will be expected to support the Advisor in all areas of his remit and will play a role in engaging the sector, assessing views and offering advice in respect of the next steps to implement the OECD’s recommendations for structural and functional change of SQA and Education Scotland. These contributions from the Expert Panel will be taken into consideration by the Advisor in the production of his Report. Matters of consideration by the Panel will therefore include:

  • leading wide engagement, including formal consultation across all relevant sectors, on the reform Education Scotland and replacement of SQA, including key national functions in Scottish education. This will include consideration of functions relating to qualifications (including accreditation, credit rating and related commercial services), assessment, curriculum, inspections and professional learning
  • engaging directly with SQA, Education Scotland, relevant staff unions and professional associations
  • seeking the views of local authorities and stakeholders on the OECD’s proposal for the possible creation of a new curriculum and assessment body. Ensure that staff directly impacted by any changes (within Education Scotland and SQA) have the opportunity to give their views. Take account of all available evidence, including analogous models both nationally and internationally.
  • considering links to other recommendations made by the OECD and plans on their implementation, including following the publication of the OECD report on qualifications
  • considering the needs of the different sectors of education which the agencies work with, including early learning and childcare (ELC), primary and secondary schools, special education, the tertiary sector, Gaelic-medium Education and Community Learning and Development (CLD). In the case of SQA, this includes awarding bodies approved by SQA Accreditation, training providers, employers and higher education
  • recognising the important role SQA and Education Scotland currently have within the CLD and tertiary sectors for a range of age groups, specifically examine this aspect to ensure any reform benefits learners within these sectors
  • seeking and taking account of appropriate specialist legal and human resources advice on the impact of any suggested structural changes. This should include consideration of any legislative changes which may be required in relation to SQA and Ministerial powers in relation to inspection
  • with the decision taken that the inspection function will move out of Education Scotland, consulting on and advising on the purpose, remit, and governance and situation of the inspection function, taking into account the impact on the wider inspection and scrutiny landscape
  • gathering evidence for and inputting to relevant impact assessments, including on equalities and children’s rights and wellbeing
  • taking part in and leading events and public engagements as necessary
  • considering impacts on the wider education system in Scotland, and taking the wider context in to account, including Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC), and the Scottish Government’s current ongoing review of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • considering impacts on the wider education system in Scotland, and taking the wider context into account, including DYW, GIRFEC, and the Scottish Government’s current ongoing review of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • making connections and considering wider policy interests, published and ongoing policy developments, and Scottish Government priorities for children and families in Scotland. This would include key priorities around closing the poverty-related attainment gap, child poverty, reducing youth unemployment and achieving excellence and equity through education. This should also take account of priorities across wider services for children

Frequency of meetings

It is expected the Expert Panel will meet at least monthly between August 2021 and January 2022. In addition, members will be expected to join the Advisor in a number of meetings with stakeholders as part of a broad engagement exercise expected to start in September 2021.


The Expert Panel will be supported by secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials based in Learning Directorate.

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