International council publishes report on Scottish education

Published: 27 June 2018

A group of international education experts, including the University of Glasgow’s Professor Chris Chapman – Director of Policy Scotland and Chair in Educational Policy and Practices - has published its first report.

A group of international education experts, including the University of Glasgow’s Professor Chris Chapman – Director of Policy Scotland and Chair in Educational Policy and Practices - has published its first report.Chris Chapman outside St. Andrews Building

Two hours before Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney announced the Scottish Government was shelving its Education Bill, the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) published a report containing 19 recommendations to further strengthen the Scottish education system. ICEA was established in 2016 to advise Ministers on how best to achieve excellence and equity in the Scottish education system.‌

Mr Swinney said some of the proposals would now be introduced through an agreement with councils instead of legislation. The deal with local authority body Cosla includes proposals to give headteachers more say over the curriculum, budgets and staff recruitment at their schools. But plans to disband the General Teaching Council for Scotland governing body and set up a new Education Workforce Council in its place have been ditched.

Overall ICEA is supportive of the direction that Scotland’s reforms are taking and it commends the core ambition of raising achievement and ensuring every child has an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their background.

In its first formal report it highlights progress made to date but also identifies the challenges in transforming the Scottish education system to devolve even more power and resources to schools.

The council:

  • commends the Scottish Government for its continued support of Curriculum for Excellence;
  • notes the importance of the Scottish Attainment Challenge funding and progress being made as a result, with a recommendation that this work is continued and sustained;
  • recommends that Scotland’s strong track-record of collaboration and consensus remains the central focus of improvement, with further thought given to whether a legislative approach is essential;
  • and welcomes the potential the Regional Improvement Collaboratives provide for capacity building and as a source of lasting cultural change.

 Mr Swinney said: “The advice and guidance the International Council of Education Advisers provides is vital in realising our ambition to learn lessons from around the world and ensure Scotland is a global leader in education. Their invaluable expertise and wide range of perspectives have helped to drive real improvement within our education system, challenging and scrutinising our plans each step of the way to ensure we are making the right decisions to improve outcomes for our young people. We will now consider the recommendations in the report in full, using them to inform our National Improvement Plan, as we continue our ambitious journey of empowerment and devolution to drive improvement in Scottish education.”

Professor Chapman said on behalf of ICEA: “The International Council has drawn on the research base and experiences across a range of education systems to inform our advice to the Scottish Government. A key part of our early work has been to engage with a range of stakeholders, and to visit schools in different settings to gain an understanding of the Scottish context.

“We believe that the conditions for success are dependent on a number of factors, including: focusing on building on the strengths of the current Scottish education system; ensuring there is the collective will from all involved to move forward together; and that teachers and school leaders are empowered to ensure that all children achieve their full potential irrespective of where they come from.

“We consider that the establishment of Regional Improvement Collaboratives provides the mechanism to embed and extend collaborative improvement across Scotland. The coherence and cohesion of these efforts offers a once in a generation opportunity to transform Scottish education.”

ICEA includes internationally well-known figures in education such as Alma Harris, Andy Hargreaves and Pasi Sahlberg, and others such as Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia.



First published: 27 June 2018

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