Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education

Report provided to Scottish Ministers by Professor Ken Muir on the replacement of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, reform of Education Scotland and removal of its inspection function.

14. Summary conclusion

The OECD Report set out a number of challenges in moving forward with CfE. In response the Scottish Government decided to remove the inspection function from Education Scotland, reforming that agency as a consequence and replace the SQA. These decisions have provided the basis for my report. In carrying out my extensive engagement and consultation programme it has become clear to me that this is an appropriate juncture at which to take stock and give consideration to the next steps for CfE. It is also a good opportunity to give deep consideration to the purposes of education and the wider vision for the future of Scottish education.

Scottish education has undergone a number of changes in recent years not least brought on by the ongoing pandemic. However, it is clear to me having undertaken this commission that further change is inevitable. Overarching policies like GIRFEC, DYW are already under review. The SAC and the NIF with their aspirations and benchmarks may need to evolve further in light of my recommendations. The incorporation of UNCRC into Scots law, together with the responses I have received from children, young people, teachers and practitioners, parent/carers and others stakeholders point to a need for change in the way that policy itself is developed, implemented and overseen.

All of these changes and developments certainly indicate the need to reconsider the structures and organisations designed to support education. More significantly, the changes point to the need for everyone involved to reflect on the culture we want within Scottish education, its purposes, what we truly value and what we examine and certificate as a result. Critically, change must focus on how we better ensure the needs and views of all learners, teachers and practitioners, together with wider societal and economic implications, are brought to the fore and met in terms of organisational mindset, governance and decision making.

Reform should only be undertaken if it will result in improvements for learners themselves. I believe that the model which I have set out in this report, based on sound and what I believe are commonly held principles, does so. It will result in a simplified and more coherent landscape where resource is placed closer to the user. It will ensure that curriculum, assessment, learning and teaching are considered together, driving what we examine and certificate.

My model is designed to enhance the concept of subsidiarity in practice and, at the same time, bring learners, teachers and practitioners closer to the strategic decision making process. I see the model ensuring that professional learning is more directed at and responsive to the needs of teachers and practitioners, allowing them to collaborate more and enhance the quality of learning and teaching and the all-important relationship they have with all learners. The creation of an independent Inspectorate with the functions and operational approaches I suggest will deliver improved support for, and oversight of, Scottish education, using first-hand evidence, research and data collated nationally and internationally. Finally, implementing the model will help to build trust and confidence across the education system and, critically, more widely with users and stakeholders.



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