Education (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Child rights and wellbeing impact assessment(CRWIA) for the Education (Reform) Bill.

10. Impact on children and young people

Qualifications Scotland

Learner Charter

Qualifications Scotland will be required to create a Learner Charter that will provide a framework between Qualifications Scotland and its key service users; learners. It will set the expectations of the organisation in relation to delivering and providing services for learners. Qualifications Scotland will be required to involve learners in the co-creation of this Charter by engaging with children, young people, adult learners and their representatives to ensure those it seeks to serve can influence its content. The purpose of the Charter is to increase accountability of Qualifications Scotland to learners to assess its performance from the perspective of learners to ensure it delivers in the interests of its core service users. For the Learner Charter, it will be paramount that the Charter's contents, and how it is developed, is underpinned by Article 12 of the UNCRC to ensure the rights of children and young people to be heard are central to its creation and purpose.

Children, Young People and Learner Engagement

The legislation will seek to ensure that the voices of learners (whom children and young people make up a significant proportion) are more clearly represented within the governance of the organisation. This will include the requirement to establish a committee that can advise on matters of interest to learners, from the perspective of learners themselves. It is expected that this committee's membership will be made up of a diversity of different learners with lived experience of seeking to obtain a Qualifications Scotland qualification, as well as learner specialists and organisations representing learners. Through this position in Qualifications Scotland's governance structure and the envisaged diversity of membership, it will seek to ensure the decisions made by Qualifications Scotland consistently factor in the views of a wide and diverse range of learners and the diversity of different views and needs of children and young people.


Qualifications Scotland will be established with a clear set of functions enabling it to design and award qualifications, to make arrangements for, or assist in or carry out the assessment of persons undertaking education and training for these qualifications, and to certificate qualifications. It will also have responsibility for quality assuring qualifications offered in Scotland through its accreditation functions,

so that all users of qualifications have confidence and trust in the qualifications they are using. Trust in the integrity of Scottish qualifications ensures sufficient, credible qualification options are available for users of qualifications to choose from and recognise which will enhance better opportunities for children and young people.

The overarching policy objective of the Bill is to establish a new public body that can provide qualifications services that best meet the needs and expectations of young people and all other learners, the education and skills system, economy, industry and other providers who use and recognise qualifications and awards. This will include the types of qualifications offered and their different ability levels, from different work-based learning opportunities, National Qualifications, development awards, training programmes, and the content of courses for those qualifications to give children and young people a breadth of choice to reflect their personal interests. For example, in 2022/23 for the SQA, which Qualifications Scotland will replace, while there were 321,385 National 5 entries, 191,820 Higher entries and 27,745 Advanced Higher entries; 99.3% of these were taken by children and young people under the age of 18. There were also entries across a range of different qualification products, such as customised awards, National Certificates, SQA Scottish Vocational Qualifications and Progression Awards, and Skills for Work.

By developing, awarding and accrediting qualifications, Qualifications Scotland will be able to provide a breadth of different qualifications and awards that meet the diverse and ever-evolving needs of young people, other learners and all those who use and recognise qualifications. Its accreditation functions will also promote excellence, fairness and integrity in Scotland's qualifications market, helping to improve the quality of qualifications, which can support better outcomes for children and young people. Ultimately this will have a positive impact on children and young people taking qualifications by having a fair, robust and transparent body that supports them to fulfil their potential through the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills so they can succeed and contribute to Scotland's society and economy.

Qualifications Scotland will be responsible for ensuring the places that offer their qualifications are fit for purpose. Qualifications Scotland will approve establishments offering their qualifications, and it will quality assure their practices when delivering their qualifications. Qualifications Scotland will work with education and training establishments (and those delivering learning, teaching and assessment for qualifications within them) to ensure all children and young people are offered qualifications that meet their different wants, needs and abilities.

Additional support for learning

Qualifications Scotland will have responsibility for quality assuring the education and training establishments that seek to offer its qualifications. In quality assuring this, it will have the ability to ensure that the way in which assessment for qualifications is provided is done appropriately and fairly by the education and training establishment. This will ensure that there is sufficient standardisation for all groups of learners, including children and young people, when they are seeking to obtain qualifications. Importantly, this quality assurance process will ensure that centres delivering Qualifications Scotland's qualifications have robust approaches and processes in

place to provide assessment arrangements to learners who need them. For example, ensuring learners with additional support needs (using the definition set out in the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004) who need them. These provisions will better support children and young people's rights by ensuring the high standards expected around the use of its services can be met to better support a fair awarding system for all types of learners.

In 2023, 37% of children and young people in Scotland's publicly funded schools required additional support for learning[14]. The express requirement for Qualifications Scotland to factor this into its quality assurance processes will ensure that all steps are taken not to disadvantage children and learners with additional support needs when they are being assessed or presented with a qualification provided by Qualifications Scotland.

These functions will support the quality and integrity of its qualifications and assessment services better supporting a fair awarding system for all. For example, it will enable Qualifications Scotland to scrutinise assessment practices in place across centres delivering their qualifications, to better help individuals with additional support needs for learning undertake and achieve qualifications. This will help all learners have equal opportunities to thrive and succeed. This will also support the need expressed in the various consultations and reviews for better parity of access and esteem across different qualifications ensuring that children and young people with different and additional needs are able to take the best learning journey at different stages of their lives.

Looked after children and young people

Ensuring Qualifications Scotland supports improvement in outcomes and attainment for care experienced individuals will be important. Looked after children and young people is also an explicit criterion within the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004. This Act automatically considers all looked after children and young people have additional support needs unless the education authority determine that they do not require additional support in order to benefit from school education. In practical terms this means that education authorities must make arrangements to identify the additional support needs, if any, of every looked after child or young person who is, or is about to be, provided with school education. Qualifications Scotland's activities will align with this Act and will support better outcomes for care experienced children and young people as a result.

Care experienced individuals made up 1.9% of the total school leaver cohort in Scotland in 2021/22. Of these, 78.3% achieved one or more qualification at SCQF level 4 compared with 96.4% of all school leavers[15]. Qualifications Scotland will be a named organisation in section 59 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. As with the SQA currently, this means it will be a named Corporate Parent, which is an organisation or individual who has special responsibilities for looked-after children and care experienced young people. The outcomes of good corporate parenting can be found in the Scottish Government's statutory guidance[16]. Qualifications Scotland's key corporate parenting responsibilities will include, but will not be limited to, upholding and promoting children's rights; securing positive educational outcomes for looked after children and care leavers; ensuring 'care' is an experience in which children are valued as individuals, and where support addresses their strengths as well as their needs; and increasing the number of care leavers in education, training and employment. Implementation of these responsibilities will also support 'Keeping the Promise' to care experienced children, young people and their families – a commitment that is fundamental to the Scottish Government's ambition that Scotland will be a place where all children are loved, safe and respected so that they can reach their full potential. In the context of education, this means supporting the improvement of educational outcomes of care experienced children and young people.

Gaelic and Scots

The Bill states that in the exercise of its functions, as mentioned in section 6 of this document, Qualifications Scotland must have regard to the needs and interests of those receiving Gaelic learner education, Gaelic medium education or the teaching of Gaelic language in the provision of further education by education authorities.

Qualifications Scotland will also consider the importance of its communications in a way which best meets the needs of users of the Gaelic language, including children and young people. This will ensure that there is alignment with article 30 of the UNCRC so children can learn and use their indigenous language without being disadvantaged.

Home Education

The draft Bill as presented will have a neutral impact on children and young people who are home educated as it will not alter the current process for access to qualifications for a child who is not on a school roll. In this way the introduction of Qualifications Scotland will bring no significant change in process for a parent and young person seeking to access qualifications as part of providing/receiving home education and will not exclude these children and young people from participating from engagement with the body, and the development of the Learner Charter.

Inspectorate of Education in Scotland

The inspection of education provision in Scotland is currently carried out by His Majesty's Inspectors, as part of Education Scotland. The Bill is establishing a new independent officeholder a HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland, to lead day to day operations of the education inspectorate (to be known as His Majesty's Inspectorate of Education in Scotland) and set an inspection plan of education provision in the future. It is expected that the Chief Inspector will set out the standards to evaluate and report on quality and improvement (applied to different sectors and services), 'model/s' for how inspections should be carried out, the circumstances of when inspections are to be carried out, and how frequently.

The Bill also requires the establishment of an Advisory Council, and for HM Chief Inspector to be required to have regards to any advice provided by the Advisory Council in preparing and revising the inspection plan. Where HM Chief Inspector has received advice from the Advisory Council and decides not to act on it, HM Chief Inspector will be required to explain this to the Advisory Council. It is expected that learners will be represented on this Council, thus strengthening the voice of children and young people, upholding Professor Muir's recommendation that children and young people should always be at the forefront of inspection design and outcomes.

Further, the Bill places several reporting requirements on HM Chief Inspector, which are expected to have further positive impact on children and young people, including an explicit duty for the Chief Inspector to publish individual establishment / service inspection reports and that the Chief Inspector be required to report annually on the 'Performance of Scottish education', helping to monitor performance in the education system at a national level. As such, the Bill will have a positive impact on improving learners' choice of progression across stages and sectors.

As is current practice, all children and young people attending education provision (from early learning and childcare to adult learning) in Scotland, will be impacted over time by the carrying out of the inspection of their establishment, and the use of evidence captured by the inspectorate to secure improvements for all learners. We do not anticipate different impacts for different groups of children and young people – the independent inspectorate will inspect all provision at different intervals, at differing degrees for different purposes, to be considered by HM Chief Inspector. As HM Chief Inspector is required to have regard to the views of the Advisory Council, provisions are expected to have a positive impact.

Additionally, when publishing documents, the HM Chief Inspector is to have regard to the importance of communicating in a way that best meets the needs of children and young people, and users of the Gaelic language.



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