Reform of SQA and Education Scotland Expert Panel: draft terms of reference

Draft terms of reference for the Reform of SQA and Education Scotland Expert Panel.


The External Expert Panel will play a key role in supporting the Advisor to the Scottish Government on the reform of Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). 


The purpose of the Expert Panel is to provide expertise, advice and support to the Advisor and help ensure that full consideration is given to all aspects of the Advisor’s remit and the wider themes and recommendations set out in the OECD report. The Panel will be chaired by Professor Ken Muir.

Membership and ways of working

Membership of the Expert Panel is below. The Panel is not designed to be representative of stakeholders in the education system.  Panel members have been invited on the expertise they hold and the broad contribution they can therefore make to the reform work. This includes their national and international experience and expertise on educational and organisational change.

As the work of the Advisor and Expert Panel progresses, it is expected that they will interact directly and have close and regular engagement with:  

  • Education Scotland
  • SQA
  • relevant staff unions and teachers’ professional associations.

It is also expected that members of the Expert Panel will be available to attend a number of engagement events that will be scheduled with other bodies to seek their views and insights on the reform.

The Expert Panel will be further supported by an extensive Practitioner and Stakeholder Advisory Group.  This will comprise organisations, including staff unions and professional associations, that represent the following diverse range of interests related to the reform - children and young people; employers; local authorities; the tertiary sector; practitioners across different sectors and providers; and parental interests.  The expertise of Advisory Group members, and the networks they can access, will ensure that a wide range of perspectives and ideas inform the Expert Panel and the overall reform work.

It is expected that the Advisor and Expert Panel will seek views and share emerging findings with existing parts of the governance in Scottish education, including:

  • The Scottish Education Council
  • The Children and Young Person’s Education Council
  • Curriculum and Assessment Board
  • Strategic Board for Teacher Education
  • Teachers’ Panel
  • Regional Improvement Collaborative’s Strategic Group
  • Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group.

Panel members will be encouraged to engage their own organisations and wider networks as appropriate, however in the interests of the free and frank exchange of views panel members may be asked to handle certain information sensitively.

Proposed format and operation

Members of the Expert Panel will be expected to support the Advisor in all areas of his remit and will play a role in engaging the sector, assessing views and drafting next steps designed to ensure that learners and schools are provided with the best possible support.  Matters of consideration by the Panel will therefore include:

  • leading wide engagement, including formal consultation across all relevant sectors, on the reform Education Scotland and replacement of SQA, including key national functions in Scottish education. This will include consideration of functions relating to qualifications (including accreditation, credit rating and related commercial services), assessment, curriculum, inspections and professional learning.
  • engaging directly with SQA, Education Scotland, relevant staff unions and professional associations.
  • seeking the views of local authorities and stakeholders on the OECD’s proposal for the possible creation of a new curriculum and assessment body. Ensure that staff directly impacted by any changes (within Education Scotland and SQA) have the opportunity to give their views. Take account of all available evidence, including analogous models both nationally and internationally.
  • considering links to other recommendations made by the OECD and plans on their implementation, including following the publication of the OECD report on qualifications. 
  • considering the needs of the different sectors of education which the agencies work with, including early learning and childcare (ELC), primary and secondary schools, special education, the tertiary sector, Gaelic-medium Education and Community Learning and Development (CLD). In the case of SQA, this includes awarding bodies approved by SQA Accreditation, training providers, employers and higher education.
  • recognising the important role SQA and Education Scotland currently have within the CLD and tertiary sectors for a range of age groups, specifically examine this aspect to ensure any reform benefits learners within these sectors.
  • seeking and taking account of appropriate specialist legal and human resources advice on the impact of any suggested structural changes.  This should include consideration of any legislative changes which may be required in relation to SQA and Ministerial powers in relation to inspection.
  • with the decision taken that the inspection function will move out of Education Scotland, consulting on and advising on the purpose, remit, and governance and situation of the inspection function, taking into account the impact on the wider inspection and scrutiny landscape.
  • gathering evidence for and inputting to relevant impact assessments, including on equalities and children’s rights and wellbeing.
  • taking part in and leading events and public engagements as necessary.
  • making connections and considering wider policy interests, published and ongoing policy developments, and Scottish Government priorities for children and families in Scotland. This would include key priorities around closing the poverty-related attainment gap, child poverty, reducing youth unemployment and achieving excellence and equity through education.  This should also take account of priorities across wider services for children.
  • considering impacts on the wider education system in Scotland, and taking the wider context in to account, including Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC), and the Scottish Government’s current ongoing review of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives.
  • considering impacts on the wider education system in Scotland, and taking the wider context into account, including DYW, GIRFEC, and the Scottish Government’s current ongoing review of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives

Frequency of meetings

It is expected the Expert Panel will meet at least monthly between August 2021 and January 2022.  In addition, members will be expected to join the Advisor in a number of meetings with stakeholders as part of a broad engagement exercise expected to start in September 2021.


The Expert Panel will be supported by secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials based in Learning Directorate.

Proposed Membership 

  • Billy Burke, Head Teacher, Renfrew High School
  • Professor Graham Donaldson CB, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Louise Hayward, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Walter Humes, University of Stirling
  • Professor Anne Looney, Dublin City University
  • Khadija Mohammed, Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators
  • Cathy McCulloch, OBE, Children’s Parliament
  • Dr Naomi Stanford, Organization Design author and consultant 

Panel Member Biographies

Ken Muir

Ken Muir retired on 12 March 2021 from his post as Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), the body responsible for promoting professional standards and regulating the teaching profession in Scotland.  Prior to his appointment in 2013, he worked for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) and as Strategic Director (Schools) and Director of Inspection when the new educational body, Education Scotland was set up.

Ken began his teaching career as a teacher of Geography and Geology in Ayrshire and has held various senior posts over his career.  He worked in schools and local authority education departments, including as Social Subjects Staff Tutor in the former Ayr Division of Strathclyde Region and as Adviser in Social Subjects in Fife Council. 

Ken is also the author of a number of Geography textbooks, is a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Royal Society of Arts, and is a regular speaker at national and international education conferences.  He is a member of the Leaders Council, formerly the Parliamentary Forum, and is a regular contributor to their newsletter bringing greater awareness and understanding of Scottish education to its readers.

Ken has been a member of many national and international education groups, including the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, the Strategic Board for Teacher Education and the Scottish Education Council.  He was a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership and a member most recently of the groups that produced the reports on Teaching in a Diverse Scotland, the Refreshed Curriculum for Excellence Narrative and Career Pathways for Teachers.  He chaired the national “Reflections” Group which reviewed for Scottish Government the first two years' experience of assessment within the new National Qualifications and served until retirement on the Deputy First Minister’s Covid Education Recovery Group. 

Ken has built up a wide network of Scottish, UK and worldwide contacts in schools, local authorities, professional associations, universities and education bodies.  He has engaged in EU, UNESCO and World Bank projects to support the introduction of Professional Standards and professional learning systems in the Middle East and developing countries.  He has a particular interest in the Finnish education system where he has worked with Helsinki University and the Finnish National Board of Education. 

In January 2021, Ken was awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of the West of Scotland.

Billy Burke

Billy Burke began his career as a maths teacher in 1998 and has been head teacher of Renfrew High School since 2013, leading the school through a sustained period of improvement to a position of considerable strength. He has steered the school through the various challenges of the pandemic and has ‘lived experience’ of delivering qualifications for young people in changing times. Billy was President of School Leaders Scotland 2018-19 and has worked at national level with key organisations connected to education. He is an associate tutor with the University of Strathclyde, contributing to leadership development courses, and is co-host of the ‘Changing Conversations’ educational podcast.

Graham Donaldson

A former teacher, Graham Donaldson headed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) from 2002-10. He radically transformed the approach to inspection in Scotland with a much greater emphasis on self-evaluation and improvement. He also introduced the inspection of local authorities and, at the invitation of the then First Minister, established a national, multi-disciplinary inspection system for child protection. As HMSCI and chief professional advisor to successive Scottish Ministers on education, he took a leading role in Scotland’s major reform of its curriculum. Following retirement from HMIE, his report ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (2011) was accepted in full and led to a major reform programme of teacher education in Scotland.

In 2014, at the invitation of the Welsh Government, he undertook a personal review of the national curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales. The Welsh Government accepted all 68 recommendations of his report, Successful Futures, and reforms involving the curriculum, assessment governance, professional learning, and accountability are currently in train for implementation in 2022. He has recently completed an independent review of the education inspectorate in Wales (A Learning Inspectorate).

In addition to extensive consultancy work, including serving as an international expert to OECD country reviews of Australia, Portugal, Sweden and Japan, Graham is an international expert supporting the OECD’s 2030 Project. He is an honorary professor at the University of Glasgow, past President of IPDA and past President of the Standing International Conference of Inspectorates.

Graham is currently advisor on educational reform to the Minister for Education and Skills in Wales and a member of the First Minister of Scotland’ International Council of Education Advisors. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath by the Queen in 2009 for services to education and received the Robert Owen Award as an inspirational educator from the Scottish Government in 2015. He has also received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Wales and the University of Glasgow.

Louise Hayward

Louise Hayward is Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation (University of Glasgow). She was a member of the internationally renowned Assessment Reform Group and in 2018 founded the International Educational Assessment Network. Originally a teacher, Louise is committed to co-constructed change processes. Her particular interests lie in curriculum, assessment and pedagogy and social justice. Recently, Louise has been working with UNESCO, OECD and policy and practice communities in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Norway, Turkey and Slovenia. Currently, she chairs the Independent Commission on the future of Assessment and Qualifications in England (New ERA: equitable, reliable assessment) funded by the NEU.

Walter Humes

Walter Humes has been a Professor of Education in three Scottish universities and is now an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling. He is co-editor of Scottish Education (5th edition, 2018) and has written extensively on educational governance, policy analysis and curriculum reform.  In 2019 he was awarded a John Nisbet Fellowship by the British Educational Research Association for his contribution to educational research.

Anne Looney

Professor Anne Looney is the Executive Dean of Dublin City University’s Institute of Education, Ireland’s largest faculty of education.  From 2001 until 2016 she was the CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the agency responsible for curriculum and assessment for early years, primary and post-primary education in Ireland. She also held the position of Interim CEO at the Higher Education Authority until March 2017.

Her current research interests include assessment policy and practice, curriculum, teacher identity and professional standards for teachers and teaching. She has also published on religious, moral and civic education, and education policy. She has been a team member for reviews for the OECD on school quality and assessment systems, and acts as a technical expert for the European Commission on projects in initial teacher education. She is the current president of the International Professional Development Association.

She is a board member of Early Childhood Ireland, and the Ark Cultural Centre for Children and in 2021 became the first woman to be appointed as a director of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Khadija Mohammed

Khadija is a Programme Leader and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the School of Education and Social Sciences. Her PhD centres on race equality exploring the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in Scotland with a focus on celebrating their cultural, linguistic and religious identities. Khadija is the co-founder and Chair of SAMEE. This is a community-led organisation providing support to educators and those in support and guidance roles across the Scottish Education system – early years, schools, colleges and universities. Khadija received the Scottish Trade Union Congress Equality Award in 2019. Khadija is the first BME Muslim educator to be elected as the Vice-Convenor of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). She is Chair of the Advance HE/Scottish Funding Council project ‘Tackling Racial Harassment in Universities and Colleges’.

Cathy McCulloch

Cathy McCulloch OBE is Co-Director and co-founder of Children’s Parliament in Scotland. With a background in Community Education, Cathy has worked in rural and city locations over the past 30 years. Her management experience has focused mainly on organisations working with children, BME communities and families. The majority of her time over the past 25 years with Children's Parliament has involved leading projects and programmes which put children's effective participation and engagement at their heart in order that children are able to influence policy and practice which better reflects the needs of children and families. Each project, consultation or programme of work has a built-in way of communicating children's experiences and views directly to influencers and decision-makers. This is done via facilitated conversations between children and adults, by children contributing creative content and comments to reports or by children's involvement in films. Children's Parliament uses a human rights approach in all its work and is currently working with the Scottish Government, other public bodies and colleagues in the NGO sector to support implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - in homes, in schools and in communities.

Naomi Stanford

Dr Naomi Stanford is an organisation design practitioner and author. During her earlier UK career Dr Stanford was an employee of large multinational companies, including Price Waterhouse, British Airways, Marks & Spencer, and Xerox. She moved to the US mid-career working as an organisation design consultant to a range of organisations in the government, non-profit and private sectors. She then returned to the UK to work in the government sector. Naomi is now free-lancing as an organisation design consultant. The third edition of her Economist book ‘A Guide to Organisation Design’ will be published in March 2022. Additionally, she writes articles and a weekly blog, speaks at conferences, and tweets regularly on organisation design.

Back to top