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.

Principles for reform

In his report, Professor Muir sets out a number of important principles that he suggests should underpin educational reform. We accept these principles as a starting point for our next steps with education reform, and will ensure that these are further developed with stakeholders as appropriate.

The principles set out by Professor Muir are:

  • all efforts, whether concerned with educational recovery post-pandemic or in terms of the future vision for Scottish education, must be directed to the purposes described in Article 29 of the UNCRC
  • the current generation of learners see climate change as one of the most significant issues facing their futures and, as such, must be recognised as a key driver influencing the future of our education system
  • increasing competitiveness across economies and in the labour market re-emphasise the importance of setting high expectations for all young people and creating the conditions for these expectations to be realised. Excellence, equity and steps to close the poverty related attainment gap remain vital drivers of any education reform
  • greater coherence and simplification of the policy and support landscape
  • a reorientation of resource to provide place-based, responsive, bespoke support for teachers and practitioners supporting the learning of children and young people. Wherever possible, the allocation of resources should support local decision making
  • an enhanced focus on ensuring high quality learning and teaching and increased collaboration among practitioners, based on the adoption of a continuous learning mind-set
  • increased recognition of the role and value of early years, including their approaches to learning and teaching and use of outdoor learning, in setting the direction of travel for the lifelong journey of learning by all children
  • a review of the roles and purposes of assessment, including examinations. Assessment should support progression in young people’s learning and ensure that what we value in all learning is truly recognised through, for example, the enhanced use of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)
  • reduced levels of bureaucracy with clarity and agreement on what are appropriate forms and levels of accountability to demonstrate the effectiveness of the education system
  • a redistribution of power, influence, and resource within Scottish education to one that reflects the principles of subsidiarity, genuinely empowers teachers and practitioners and where learners’ voices, experiences, perspectives and rights are central to decision making
  • recognition and celebration of Scotland as an ethnically diverse society with equal status being given to the voices of those most often unheard, for example, those from different denominations and minority ethnic and Gaelic communities
  • trusting relationships between children, young people, teachers and practitioners and increased trust and confidence between local authorities, schools and national bodies
  • opportunities for increased collaboration and meaningful engagement between stakeholders, politicians at all levels, local authorities, professional associations, trade unions and the national agencies with responsibility for key aspects of education
  • greater resourcing and attention placed on ensuring the needs of individual leaners are met, including crucially those with additional support needs as set out in Angela Morgan’s report Support for Learning: All our Children and All their Potential (June 2020)
  • the improved collation, sharing and use of data and intelligence to support continuous improvement and the development of a shared understanding of system quality and effectiveness and baselines for evaluating the impact of change
  • governance arrangements for national and local bodies should reflect the principles of good public management. In particular, an independent Chair and a representative Board should provide support and challenge
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