Putting learners at the centre: response to the independent advisor on education reform's report

Response to the report by the independent advisor on education reform, Professor Ken Muir.


Professor Muir’s recommendations (13, 14, 15, and 16)

13. A new Inspectorate body should be established with its independence enshrined in legislation. Its governance should reflect this independence, with the body funded by the Scottish Parliament, staffed by civil servants and inspectors, the latter of which are appointed with the approval of Her Majesty via the Privy Council.

14. Building on recent work undertaken by Education Scotland’s scrutiny team, the new independent Inspectorate should undertake the functions set out in section 10 of this report. Critical roles of the independent Inspectorate will be to support improvement, evaluate major changes in the education system and report annually and over longer periods, on the performance of Scottish education.

15. As a matter of urgency the new independent Inspectorate should re-engage with the Care Inspectorate to agree a shared inspection framework designed to reduce the burden on Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) practitioners and centres.

16. The new independent Inspectorate should undertake an inspection on the effectiveness of the new, proposed arrangements designed to support change and improvement at local and regional levels. This should be completed within two years of the new Inspectorate coming into operation.

Initial response

Broadly accept: we will continue with our commitment to remove Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) from Education Scotland and recognise the need for an independent Inspectorate as highlighted by the OECD Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future report, and supported during Professor Ken Muir’s engagement. We agree in principle with the need for independence and the increased responsibilities that he sets out.

We will engage with key stakeholders to ensure a new inspection body which is separate from a national education agency has the governance and reporting arrangements in place to ensure its powers support teachers and practitioners and institutions to improve, and agree that legislation will underpin this. This new inspectorate will strive to create a supportive inspection system to foster improvement across education settings facilitating a trusting environment between our national agencies and our learning institutions. The new inspection body will continue to be staffed by civil servants and inspectors, the latter of which are appointed with the approval of Her Majesty via the Privy Council.

The move of HMIE into the new inspection body will work alongside existing ministerial commitments to the Scottish Funding Council’s development of a single quality assurance and enhancement framework for tertiary education.

We welcome Professor Muir’s recommendation in relation to the creation of a shared framework for the inspection of early learning and childcare (ELC), which would represent a positive step forward. We are, however, conscious of the challenges the ELC sector has raised regarding the dual inspection regime. We will therefore consider this recommendation further in context of the National Care Service reforms, and as we take forward work on the new inspection body. We will come forward with specific proposals to consult with the ELC sector before the summer. This consultation will take place alongside the important work of establishing the independent education Inspectorate, and will not delay that process.

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