Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve excellence and equity in education: governance review

Consultation on how the education sector is run, who should take decisions on the education of children and young people and how funding can be made fairer.

8. Accountability

Empowering our teachers and headteachers is key to delivering our vision of excellence and equity. A more empowered system requires clear and effective accountability. Accountability is described by the OECD as the challenge of holding different actors at multiple levels responsible for their actions. Ensuring an effective balance of flexibility and accountability is a challenge that is faced by all modern education systems.

Our accountability system currently includes a range of bodies with formal roles including: the Scottish Government, local authorities, Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council. Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate provide independent inspection with a clear focus on self-evaluation and improvement. The General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council provide the professional standards for their members.

At a system level, the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland hold local authorities and the Scottish Government to account and help them to improve. As democratically-elected representatives, local and national governments are accountable to their electorates. Scottish Ministers have powers under section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 to intervene if local authorities are failing to fulfil their duties under the Act or any other education-related legislation.

Schools should primarily be accountable to parents and their local communities. The development of the National Improvement Framework will support parents and communities to make informed decisions and choices by providing accessible data to drive improvement and allow everyone to play their part effectively. It is important that accountability aligns with the allocation of responsibilities and resources and that there is a clarity about the level of responsibility at different levels in the system. We want our accountability and scrutiny arrangements to be joined-up where possible and to reduce the burden of scrutiny on those delivering education. It is important that we have the right governance arrangements in place to continually review the range of accountability and scrutiny systems and to ensure that these approaches are delivering improvement. Those providing scrutiny also need to be held to account on the quality and impact of their work and to ensure that approaches to scrutiny are fair, transparent and consistent.

Question 16

How could the accountability arrangements for education be improved?

Question 17

Is there anything else you would like to add regarding the governance of education in Scotland?


Email: Tracey McRae, tracey.mcrae@gov.scot

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