Publication - Consultation paper

Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority: consultation

A consultation on the replacement of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the reform of Education Scotland.

Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority: consultation
Section 4 - Replacing The Scottish Qualifications Authority and Reforming Education Scotland

Section 4 - Replacing The Scottish Qualifications Authority and Reforming Education Scotland

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills announced in June 2021 the intention to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and consider a new specialist agency for both curriculum and assessment while also taking forward reform of Education Scotland, including removing the function of inspection or scrutiny from the agency. This section seeks views on how best to take forward key aspects of the Cabinet Secretary's decision including:

  • Removing Scrutiny (Inspection and review) from Education Scotland
  • Further reform of Education Scotland
  • Replacing SQA
  • Considering the establishment of a new Curriculum and Assessment Agency

While it is expected to take some time to establish new or revised national agencies, it is anticipated that they will have a key role in taking forward delivery of wider OECD recommendations. This would include embedding a refreshed vision for Curriculum for Excellence, defining indicators to understand progress across the four capacities, building curricular capacity, implementing new pedagogical and assessment practices, implementing approaches for internal assessment in determining qualifications, ensuring appropriate breadth and depth of learning through the Broad General Education[18] and in respect of the Senior Phase[19], embedding a structured and long-term approach to implementation, effective stakeholder engagement and coherent communications.

To assist you in answering these questions, information on the current roles and functions carried out by SQA and Education Scotland are provided within the supporting documents section.

Removing Scrutiny (Inspection and review) from Education Scotland

External scrutiny (inspection and review) plays a fundamental role in the overall drive to continue to improve education in Scotland for all of our children, young people and adult learners. HM Inspectors carry out independent, external evaluation of standards, quality and improvement with a clear focus on impact and outcomes for learners. The scrutiny programme covers all sectors from early learning and childcare to adult learning, The evidence gathered through observing practice at first hand identifies what is working well in our education system, including examples of highly effective practice, areas which are showing improvement and areas where further development is needed.

14. Please share any comments or suggestions you have on this proposed reform below.

We are particularly interested in hearing your views on:

a) the approach this reform should take (for example what form should this agency take)

b) the opportunities these reforms could present (for example the development of a new national approach to inspection including alignment with other scrutiny functions)

c) the risks associated with any reform (for example whether the independence of the inspectorate could be jeopardised by change)

d) how any risks might be mitigated

e) the timescales over which these reforms should take place.

Further Reform of Education Scotland

Beyond inspection Education Scotland is a broad organisation responsible for a range of important functions designed to support a number of parts of the Scottish Education system. These functions include directly supporting learning communities at local and regional levels, offering a wide range of professional learning and leadership development programmes and opportunities, Community Learning and Development (including the CLD Standards Council), supporting digital pedagogies and as the function of Registrar of Independent Schools.

15. Please share any comments or suggestions you have on how the functions currently housed in Education Scotland could be reformed.

We are particularly interested in hearing your views on:

a) the approach this reform should take (for example which functions should continue to sit within a reformed Education Scotland, and are there any functions which could be carried out elsewhere)

b) the opportunities reform could present (for example should more prominence be given to aspects of Education Scotland's role)

c) the risks associated with any reform (for example disruption of service to education establishments and settings)

d) how any risks might be mitigated

e) the timescales over which these reforms should take place.

Replacing SQA

SQA has two main roles: accreditation and awarding qualifications.

  • SQA Accreditation accredits qualifications other than degrees and approves and quality assures awarding bodies that plan to enter people for these qualifications.
  • SQA Awarding Body devises and develops national and vocational qualifications across schools, colleges, training providers and employers; sets standards and maintains such qualifications; validates qualifications (makes sure they are well written and meet the needs of learners and practitioners); reviews qualifications to ensure they are up to date; arranges for, assists in, and carries out, the assessment of people taking SQA qualifications; quality-assures education and training establishments which offer SQA qualifications; and issues certificates to candidates.

Within both of these roles, SQA offers a range of services for businesses and training providers, ranging from course and centre approval through customised awards, to endorsement, credit rating and licensing services.

16. Please share any comments or suggestions you have on this proposed reform below.

We are particularly interested in hearing your views on:

a) the approach this reform should take (for example could a function be carried out elsewhere)

b) the opportunities these reforms could present (for example should more prominence be given to an aspect of SQA's role)

c) the risks associated with any reform (for example loss of income, confusion as to system of awards in Scotland)

d) how any risks might be mitigated

e) the timescales over which these reforms should take place.

Considering the Establishment of a new Curriculum and Assessment Agency

The establishment of new Agency has the potential to enhance the quality of teaching and learning across the education sector. It will be important that the remit, purpose, governance and culture of the new agency match the aspirations of the system it will be designed to serve. We are therefore interested in the role of the new agency, its relationship with other parts of the system including the Scottish Ministers and how we will know it has been successful.

17. Please share any comments or suggestions you have on this proposed reform below.

We are particularly interested in hearing your views on:

a) the approach this reform should take (for example are there alternative models for this reform?)

b) the opportunities these reforms could present (for example what should the role of the new agency be?)

c) the risks associated with any reform

d) how any risks might be mitigated

e) the timescales over which these reforms should take place.

If you have any additional comments and suggestions relating to this consultation, please send them to EducationReform@gov.scot


Contact

Email: EducationReform@gov.scot