Education (Scotland) Bill: strategic environment assessment - pre-screening notification

Strategic environment assessment (SEA) pre-screening notification for the Education (Reform) Bill.

Education (Scotland) Bill - Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) - Pre-Screening Notification

1. Responsible Authority

Scottish Ministers

2. Title of the plan

Education (Scotland) Bill

3. What prompted the plan:


4. Plan subject


5. Brief summary of the plan

The objectives of the Bill are to provide the legal underpinning to support the design and delivery of a national organisational infrastructure for education in Scotland that more effectively supports the system, to deliver the vision for education in Scotland.

The Bill is in two substantive parts. Part one establishes a new qualifications body, to be known as Qualifications Scotland, to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). It will be set up as a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), including appropriate governance arrangements and statutory functions. As an operationally independent organisation, the provisions are primarily ones that set the governance and structural arrangements for how Qualifications Scotland will be able to operate.

Part two establishes the office of HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland. The statutory functions will be conferred on the Chief Inspector and the Chief Inspector will lead a new independent education inspectorate, to take forward the education inspection functions that currently sit within Education Scotland. The Bill will set out the governance arrangements and statutory functions necessary in relation to the full range of educational establishments and services currently inspected, from early years to adult learning.

6. Brief summary of the likely environmental consequences:

Qualifications Scotland – The new NDPB will carry out the same functions as the SQA does at present and is likely to be of a similar size with the same locations resourced to the same level, thus the environmental impact derived from the introduction of the Bill is considered to be minimal.

The new body will be environmentally aware in both its operation and delivery of its functions in areas such as digital technology. It will endeavour to work in an environmentally responsible way, minimising its impact on the environment and leading other organisations and the communities in which it will operate by promoting sustainability in a positive manner. It will maximise opportunities to reduce environmental impact across all operational activities and will publish sustainability data to ensure accurate and valuable reporting.

Office of HM Chief Inspector of Scotland – The resources and accommodation required to allow the Chief Inspector to discharge their functions will be provided through the existing provision within Education Scotland. Therefore, it is considered that there will be minimal environmental impact.

The new body will be environmentally aware in both its operation and inspection functions seeking opportunities to reduce its carbon footprint in respect of undertaking inspections in schools and other educational establishments, particularly by making the best use of digital technology in its work. This will contribute to the Scottish Government’s targets towards net-zero by 2045.

The Bill was rescheduled from 2023 to give the Cabinet Secretary time to review the Bill plans and the findings of a series of reviews which had been commissioned. There was also a public consultation on the Bill from 7 November to 18 December 2023. The purpose of the consultation was to seek further views on the provisions in the Bill to create a new qualifications body, and approaches to enhancing the role inspection plays in improving education in Scotland, including potentially through legislation. To date there has been no evidence from the reports or consultation responses to change the above assessment of the environmental impact and our opinion that a full SEA is not required.

7. Brief summary of how environmental principles have been considered: (including whether any of the guiding principles, as set out in section 13 of the Continuity Act, are relevant to the plan)

While the guiding principles have been considered during preparation, they are not considered relevant to this Bill due to the minor environmental effects it is likely to have.

8. Contact details:

Bill Team

Education Reform Division

9. Date of opinion

19 February 2024



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