International Council of Education Advisers: third report 2021-2023

This is the third formal report of the ICEA relating to their third two-year term (2021-2023) of work.

Review of the major recommendations in the previous ICEA report (2020)

The previous ICEA report, International Council of Education Advisers Report 2018-2020, was published on 17 December 2020. That report was written in the context of the continuing global pandemic and ensuing uncertainty, to “support Scottish education not merely to get back to normal, or even to define a new normal, but to use this crisis as an opportunity to become a truly extraordinary educational system in the future.”

The ICEA 2020 report contained two sets of recommendations. The first was about “Navigating the pandemic and beyond: redesigning schooling, teaching, and learning” (some recommendations highlighted here).

  • Digital technologies: The ICEA recommended “superior digital pedagogies and universally accessible, high quality, and interactive national learning platforms.” This included attention to equity of access to digital devices, technologies and connectivity, and the development of digital competences for educators and children and young people. With digital technologies, we also recommended the deliberate development of student capacity for self-directed learning.
  • Expansion of learning outdoors: The ICEA encouraged the expansion of outdoor learning across all phases of schooling (including early childhood education) and recommended teachers to be supported in designing outdoor learning opportunities within their teaching approaches.
  • Reform of qualifications and assessment: The ICEA recommended: “a shift towards continuous professional assessment supported by investment in appropriate professional learning” and linked this to reform of examinations and qualifications, especially in the senior phase of secondary schooling.
  • Review of curriculum: The ICEA recognised the holistic nature of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and recommended cyclical reviews of CfE so that it could continue to stay relevant and facilitate “the realisation of its core capacities.”
  • Engagement of students, families, and communities: The ICEA highlighted the importance of improving communication between schools and parents/carers, families and communities, and recommended strengthening interagency working, and the development of community connections, including research practice partnerships. This included a recommendation for “integrated learning, health and wellbeing within a place-based holistic educational approach.”

The second set of recommendations concerned “Governing and leading education system change and improvement.” These included the following.

  • System leadership, partnerships, and collaboration for a networked learning system: The ICEA recommended a “theory of change and leadership approaches that emphasise distributed responsibility and engagement, professional judgment and agency, robust collaborative professionalism, local energy and ownership leading school improvement and continued learning by school leadership and the teaching profession”. The ICEA also recommended “a Networked Learning System to enhance connections among schools and professionals, designed-based research and practice-based professional learning.” We emphasised the need to balance structural change, cultural change, and capacity building, but recommended increasing the attention to cultural change and capacity building, especially amid significant structural change.
  • School leadership and the Teaching Profession: In the light of increasing concerns about burnout, working conditions, working in isolation, and mental and emotional health for school leaders and teachers, the ICEA recommended “support for leaders in their work and wellbeing through mentoring as a professional entitlement” and to support “a teaching profession with certification, terms, conditions, support, and professional learning that enhance digital competence, develop capabilities concerning teaching outside, and strengthen collaborative professionalism”.

Scottish Government’s response to this report was included in the report Education - Achieving Excellence and Equity: national improvement framework and improvement plan 2022 published on 14 December 2021. ICEA recommendations incorporated into the Improvement Plan included: enhancing a range of professional learning and leadership development opportunities; supporting an online professional learning community; commitments to strengthen teacher engagement and school empowerment; guidance on family engagement; updating a parent engagement plan; implementing cyclical review of CfE; support for interdisciplinary Learning for Sustainability; attention to health and wellbeing for children and young people; access to devices for every school age child; collaboration with children and young people’s organisations to improve engagement in decision making; and the formation of the Scottish Coalition for Educational Research (SCER).



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