Publication - Consultation paper

Statutory Guidance, Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000: consultation

Published: 22 Aug 2016
Learning Directorate
Part of:

Consultation seeking views on statutory guidance for Part 1 of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”).

71 page PDF

915.7 kB

71 page PDF

915.7 kB

Statutory Guidance, Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000: consultation
Chapter 1: Introduction

71 page PDF

915.7 kB

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 [1] : 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 [2] : 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 [3] .
  • sections 3F, 3H [4] 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 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" [5] , "How Good is our School 4 ( HGIOS 4) [6] " and "How Good is our Early Learning and Childcare? [7] ", 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) [8] and the Scottish Attainment Challenge as well as the priorities set out in "Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy. [9] " It may be helpful for education authorities and schools to consider their duties 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. A range of case studies will support education authorities in exploring how they could fulfil the duties covered by this guidance. These can be found through Education Scotland's Improvement Hub [10][11] and are provided for illustrative purposes only - there is no requirement for education authorities to adopt those 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. Headteachers will wish to be aware of this guidance where the education authority has delegated the carrying out of the duty to them. Section 25 of the 2016 Act also introduces the role of the Chief Education Officer. Once these provisions are commenced, likely to be summer 2017, the individuals in these roles will have an interest in this statutory guidance. 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.

Glossary of terms

Within the context of this statutory guidance, the following terms have the following meanings:

Attainment refers to the measurable progress which children and young people make as they progress through and beyond school. This progress is in relation to curriculum areas and in the development of skills for learning, life and work.

Achievement refers to the totality of skills and attributes embedded within the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence and developed across the curriculum in school and through learning in other contexts. This includes successes recognised by other groups and bodies as well as strengths identified by the individual.

The attainment gap refers to the gap in attainment and achievement between those living in Scotland's least and most disadvantaged homes. Many children and young people from lower-income households do significantly worse at all levels of the education system than those from better-off homes. Success in closing the attainment gap will be reflected in improved levels of attainment and achievement across a number of identified measures.

Corporate Parenting is defined in the statutory guidance to Part 9 of the 2014 Act as an organisation's performance of actions necessary to uphold the rights and safeguard the wellbeing of a looked after child or care leaver, and through which physical, emotional, spiritual, social and educational development is promoted. [12]

Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) is the curriculum in Scotland for children and young people aged 3 to 18 years old. Curriculum for Excellence aims to transform education in Scotland by providing a coherent, flexible and enriched curriculum which will prepare young people for learning, life and work in the 21st century.

CfE levels refer to the levels of learning within CfE. There are two phases of CfE- broad general education (pre-school to S3), then senior phase (S4 to S6). Across the BGE there are five levels of learning: Early, First, Second, Third and Fourth.

Data are facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

Education authority means a council constituted under section 2 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, in the discharge of its education functions.

Education authority annual plan is a plan which must be prepared and published under new section 3F of the 2000 Act (introduced by section 3 of the 2016 Act). The annual plan must set out three different things:

(a) steps proposed to reduce inequalities of outcome for pupils experiencing them as a result of socio-economic disadvantage;

(b) the steps proposed to comply with authorities' duty to consult with and advise the persons specified in section 3B(4) when making decisions of a strategic nature about the carrying out of their school education functions, and;

(c) steps proposed in pursuance of the NIF (the four key NIF priorities)

The plan must be published before the 12 month planning period commences (see below). The planning period dates will be prescribed in regulations brought forward by the Scottish Ministers in 2017.

Education authority annual report is a report which must be prepared and published under new section 3H of the 2000 Act (introduced by section 3 of the 2016 Act). The report must set out:

(a) steps taken to reduce inequalities of outcome;

(b) steps taken to comply with authorities' duty to consult and advise those persons specified in section 3B(4);

(c) steps taken in pursuance of the NIF (the four key NIF priorities), and;

(d) any resulting educational benefits.

The report must be published as soon as is reasonably practicable following the end of the planning period.

Employability is the combination of factors and processes which enable people to progress towards employment, to stay in employment and to move on in the workplace.

Equity means treating people fairly, but not necessarily treating people the same. Equity in education means steps are taken to ensure that, as far as is possible, personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background are not obstacles to achieving educational outcomes and that all our young people are well supported to secure wellbeing, skills for learning, life and work and the best possible post-school destination.

Equality is the removal of barriers and the widening of opportunities for those for whom access is limited. Where equality is embedded in practice, there will be no prejudice-based discrimination.

Family learning is one aspect of parental involvement and is a method of engagement and learning which can foster positive attitudes towards lifelong learning, promote socio-economic resilience and challenge educational disadvantage. Family learning encourages family members to learn together as and within a family, with a focus on intergenerational learning. Family learning activities can also be specifically designed to enable parents to learn how to support their children's learning.

Inequalities of outcome is the term used to describe a measurable difference in the attainment and achievement of children who fall within groups that share certain characteristics and those who do not.

National Improvement Framework ( NIF) sets out the Scottish Government's vision and priorities for Scotland's children's progress in learning [13] . The first NIF was published on 6 th January 2016.

NIF drivers provide a focus and structure for gathering evidence which can then be analysed to identify where further improvements can be made in Scottish education.

NIF key priorities, as set out in the 2016 publication, are:

  • improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
  • closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children;
  • improvement in children and young people's health and wellbeing, and;
  • improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school leaver destinations for all young people.

National Outcomes describe what the Government wants to achieve over the next ten years. They help to sharpen the focus of government, enable priorities to be clearly understood and provide a clear structure for delivery.

Parent is any person (including a guardian) who is liable to maintain or has parental responsibilities (within the meaning of section 1(3) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995) in relation to, or has care of a child or young person. This is a wide definition which might, by way of example, include: non-resident parents who are liable to maintain or have parental responsibilities in respect of a child ; carers who can be parents ; others with parental responsibilities, e.g. foster carers, relatives and friends who are caring for children and young people under supervision arrangements , and; close relatives, such as siblings or grandparents caring for children who are not looked after or are under home supervision arrangements. Everyone who is a parent has rights to receive advice and information about their child's education, general information about the school, to be told about meetings involving their child, and to participate in activities, such as taking part in decisions relating to a Parent Council.

Parent Council is defined under the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 as the statutory body responsible for representing parents' views in the life and work of the school. Members of the Parent Council must be members of the school's Parent Forum. That is, they must have a child attending the school.

Parent Forum - Parent Forum is defined under the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006. All parents who have a child attending a public school are automatically a member of the Parent Forum for that school. Membership of the forum allows parents to have a say in the local arrangements to enable their collective view to be represented on matters such as the quality and standards of education at the school. When considering how and in what ways to involve and work in partnership with parents, schools should consider how to involve the wider Parent Forum as well as the Parent Council.

Partners include all individuals or organisations that deliver learning and contribute to the life and work of schools. These may include community learning and development services, colleges, universities, employers, third sector, community organisations and libraries.

Planning period is an annual 12 month period of activity, the dates of which are to be prescribed in regulations to be made by the Scottish Ministers. Education authorities will take action over the 12 months in line with the annual plan it has published and will subsequently report on the progress made against the plan once the planning period has concluded.

Pupils are those children and young people aged 3-18 who receive education provided by the education authority whether that is in the early years through nursery, through primary school or secondary school, or other means. In some cases this may also include some looked after 2 year olds.

Stakeholders are those who are affected by the carrying out of the duties outlined in this guidance and, while not exhaustive, may include Headteachers, pupils, parents of pupils, Parent Councils and the wider parent forum within schools, teachers, teaching staff unions, voluntary organisations and, where applicable, church representatives.

Standards and Quality report is a term used within most education authorities to describe the annual report that is produced by most education authorities under section 6(4) of the 2000 Act.


Email: Hazel Crawford,