International Council of Education Advisers meeting papers: June 2022

Papers from the meeting of the group on 22 and 23 June 2022.

Education reform and National Discussion – progress report (paper 1)

This paper is for discussion/information ICEA(22)01. Paper by the Scottish Government.


Considerable work is ongoing across the Scottish Government’s education reform and improvement agenda, as we make progress towards; the creation of three new national bodies, the Independent Review of qualifications and assessments by Professor Louise Hayward and the National Discussion which we have committed to holding.

The Cabinet Secretary last week (June 14) updated the Scottish Parliament on the approach we are taking to the future of education in Scotland.

The parliamentary statement provided an update on how we will meet the challenges posed in Professor Muir’s report ‘Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education.’

National Discussion

Work has begun and will take place over the summer in planning the autumn launch of the National Discussion to establish the “compelling and consensual vision for the future of Scottish education” which was recommended in the Muir Report.

The National Discussion has already generated significant enthusiasm across the sector with inevitable parallels being drawn with the National Debate which was held in 2002, paving the way for the Curriculum for Excellence. 

We have stressed the positive endorsement of Curriculum for Excellence by the OECD, to help make clear it is not a discussion about the curriculum but the long term vision which we want to establish, for this generation and also for future generations of learners.

The expertise and the insight of the ICEA will be invaluable in making the National Discussion and its outcomes successful. That is why we looked firstly to the ICEA for assistance with the facilitation of the National Discussion. We are delighted that Emeritus Professor Dr Alma Harris and Professor Carol Campbell have agreed to help plan and facilitate the discussions which will form the vision for education in Scotland. 

Professors Harris and Campbell will be interested in the views and experience of the full Council as they help take forward this work over the coming months. 

As you know both Professors have extensive experience of educational change, leadership, and school improvement, as well as a strong understanding of the Scottish education system, through their work as members of the International Council of Education Advisers and they are committed to ensuring the discussion engages widely and reflects the views of those we need to listen to most – our learners.

Reform of bodies

Scottish Government has committed to the establishment of a new education agency for Scotland, a new qualifications body and a new inspectorate. These bodies will replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Scotland. Following detailed and constructive engagement with unions and management in both SQA and Education Scotland, we have agreed governance structures in place that will draw on the expertise, experience, views and resources that exist within the Scottish education system while providing strategic leadership and accountability around the design of the new bodies. Ensuring that business as usual activity for both organisations continues alongside the process of reform is critical.

Our aim is to develop operating models for the new bodies by the end of this year and we continue to take a collaborate approach to our reforms working closely with 
delivery partners, trade unions, equality and human rights organisations, Gaelic Medium and Scots language sectors and of course parents, teachers, children and young people of all ages, practitioners working at every level, employers, communities and carers.  

Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment

Professor Louise Hayward has begun to undertake an Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment and she is also committed to meaningful engagement with all interested parties, in particular young people. An Independent Review Group has been established, that includes young people and teachers, who will work with their peers to consider options for change. 

The Review will also engage directly with schools and colleges and key partners in learner journey qualifications and assessment. Professor Hayward will report to the Cabinet Secretary by the end of March 2023 and will work closely with the National Discussion so that key initial findings from that exercise can be considered ahead of final recommendations on the future of examinations and assessment. 

Post school education, research and skills purpose and principles 

The Purpose and Principles will represent the start of a longer term transformation to ensure that our post school education, research and skills system is fit for the future. This is an opportunity to stimulate debate and discussion on all aspects of our post school education, skills and research system and to start to shift cultural expectations and challenge perceptions of what the system can deliver.

The project presents a bold and exciting opportunity to align a whole ecosystem behind a shared purpose and set of principles, articulating clearly defined roles and responsibilities which provides a clear strategic framework for decision making based on the outcomes we want to see. The Purpose and Principles provides the vehicle to articulate clearly what the ecosystem is and the role that we expect everyone, including institutions, employers and the third sector, to play in it.

The work provides an opportunity to articulate how this could work at its best and showcase existing positive examples.

Given the scope of what we are planning, it is important to do this properly and in a way that brings all partners with us to provide the foundations for future decision making. We will align with the implementation of recommendations arising from the OECD review, Ken Muir’s report and Louise Hayward’s review of qualifications as part of wider Education Reform that is underway.

The Council is asked to note progress in respect of education reform in Scotland including the National Discussion and consider:

  • models of international best practice on national discussions
  • how to balance expectations of what the vision will deliver against ensuring it has a tangible outcome
  • how to ensure the views of learners remain central to the national discussion and our other engagement work on reform
  • effective approaches to participative governance for the new bodies, in order to ensure that the needs of learners and practitioners are central to decision making
  • how to ensure clarity of system-wide governance roles, responsibilities and leadership across national government and delivery organisations


International Council of Education Advisers minutes: June 2022

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