Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 This is statutory guidance prepared under section 13 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 ("the 2000 Act") as amended by section 4 of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 ("the 2016 Act"). Section 13 enables the Scottish Ministers to issue guidance to education authorities in relation to their functions under section 3 to 8 of the 2000 Act, and education authorities are required to have regard to this guidance in discharging these functions.
1.2 This guidance focuses in particular on education authority duties which are designed to enhance equity and support improvement within schools and across education authorities as provided for in the following statutory provisions:
- Section 3B of the 2000 Act: imposes duties on education authorities which are designed to promote a reduction in inequalities of educational outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage.
- Section 3D of the 2000 Act: imposes a duty on education authorities, in discharging their duty under section 3(2) of the 2000 Act (to secure improvement in the quality of school education) to do so with a view to achieving the strategic priorities of the National Improvement Framework.
- sections 3F, 3H and 6 of the 2000 Act: impose duties on education authorities in relation to annual planning and reporting; and annual school improvement planning.
1.3 These duties have been introduced by way of a series of amendments to the 2000 Act, delivered through Part 1 of the 2016 Act. They form part of a broad programme of activity focused on improving educational outcomes for all learners and closing the attainment gap experienced by children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is underpinned by section 2(1) of the 2000 Act which states that:
"Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential."
1.4 The broader programme builds on the approach embodied through Curriculum for Excellence and will support the Scottish Ministers, education authorities and others to promote, support and safeguard the wellbeing and development of our children and young people. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 ("the 2014 Act") places further duties on local authorities and other bodies to more actively collaborate and take action to promote and safeguard the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers.
1.5 The new duties imposed on education authorities by the 2000 Act as amended by the 2016 Act are designed to complement the range of legal requirements already placed on education authorities, most notably the legal requirement included at section 3(2) of the 2000 Act which provides:
"An education authority shall endeavour to secure improvement in the quality of school education which is provided in the schools managed by them; and they shall exercise their functions in relation to such provision with a view to raising standards of education."
1.6 The new duties imposed on education authorities will take effect from August 2017.
1.7 The guidance is split into three main parts, focusing on the following main issues:
- Pupils experiencing inequalities of outcome;
- National Improvement Framework ("the NIF"), and;
- Planning and reporting.
1.8 The duties covered in each part form part of a single coherent approach designed to deliver both excellence and equity across Scotland's education system. It is therefore important that all aspects of the guidance are considered together.
1.9 The guidance is issued under section 13 of the 2000 Act and is complemented by the "National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education", "How Good is our School 4 (HGIOS? 4)" and "How Good is our Early Learning and Childcare?", the national self-evaluation toolkits for Scottish schools. It is recognised, however, that in discharging their education functions, education authorities may require to cut across, or have regard to, a number of interrelated policies, initiatives and legislation. To that end, this statutory guidance also takes account of other guidance related to Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and the Scottish Attainment Challenge as well as the priorities set out in "Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy." It may be helpful for education authorities and schools to consider their duties, and guidance, under the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 given that many of the new duties set out at paragraph 1.2 will require them to consult with parents, whether individually or through Parent Councils and such like.
1.10 Recognising that the delivery of education services represents a very significant part of children's services planning and delivery, it is important that this guidance is considered in conjunction with the statutory guidance issued under section 15 of the 2014 Act which relates to Part 3 (children's services planning), Part 6 (Early Learning and Childcare) and Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of that Act. Education authorities will also wish to bear in mind their duties under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) when considering this guidance. This guidance should also be considered in relation to section 20 (duty to provide information to Skills Development Scotland) of the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013 and the Young People's Involvement in Education and Training (Provision of Information) (Scotland) Order 2014 which concern the provision of information to support post-school participation in learning, training and work. Furthermore, awareness of the local authority's responsibilities under the Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 may be helpful as other relevant work may already be underway within the authority which could contribute to the carrying out of the education authority's new duties. This could perhaps involve some of the same educational practitioner stakeholders, such as community learning and development workers including youth workers, for example.
1.11 While the guidance has been designed to support education authorities in effectively fulfilling the relevant duties listed in paragraph 1.2, it seeks to offer a degree of flexibility and discretion with regard to how they do this in practice. This approach should allow each authority to shape their own policies and processes, reflecting their local context and the needs of their communities while at the same time allowing education authorities to report against the key NIF priorities. It will also enable education authorities to take account of the Tackling Bureaucracy agenda and other related work in shaping how they take forward their duties in practice. In future, if required, case studies could be developed to support education authorities in exploring how they might fulfil the duties covered by this guidance. These would be made available via Education Scotland's National Improvement Hub for illustrative purposes only (there would be no requirement for education authorities to adopt these models).
1.12 The guidance is aimed at those with statutory responsibility for fulfilling the relevant duties described above (education authorities). The guidance will therefore be of interest to strategic leaders and senior operational managers in education authorities including those appointed as Chief Education Officer under section 25 of the 2016 Act, once those provisions are commenced. Headteachers will wish to familiarise themselves with the relevant parts of this guidance, given education authorities are required to delegate the carrying out of their duty to prepare the school improvement plan to them. It will be the responsibility of the education authority to ensure that all appropriate staff are supported to satisfy the legal requirements of the 2000 Act, as amended by the 2016 Act, through local guidance, policies and procedures, and training and management support structures.
1.13 It is also likely to be of interest to other organisations involved in the delivery of education services and those involved in strategic planning processes related to children's services. The guidance is not, in itself, aimed at parents and/or children and young people. Education authorities are also encouraged to explore what measures they can take to raise awareness of the contents of the guidance within their communities.