Education report calls for greater equity and excellence in education

Published: 14 November 2023

Scottish Government publishes latest International Council of Education Advisors (ICEA) report

The Scottish Government has published its third International Council of Education Advisors (ICEA) Report, advocating for ever increasing cooperation between schools, government, national agencies and universities.

The ICEA was founded in 2016 to advise the First Minister and Scottish Government on education policy that promotes equity and excellence. Among its members are Professors Chris Chapman at the University of Glasgow and Carol Campbell, who will join the university in January.

Members of the ICEA have extensive international experience and expertise as researchers and policy advisers for other governments. They bring together diverse international perspectives in relation to the opportunities and challenges facing Scotland’s educational system. In their report the ICEA offers a number of key recommendations, including:

Improve the teaching profession and professional learning – continued improvement of the working conditions of school leaders and teachers; the government, national agencies and regional improvement efforts to explore and expand professional learning opportunities.

Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment – revisit the issues that impede the CfE potential, such as performance in exams as the key driver, support the profession in developing its capacity for continuous assessment.

Support collaboration among teachers and schools – build on professional learning programmes that are built by teachers for teachers and strengthen relationships between schools and regions and invest in technology to support more collaboration and build a Networked Learning System.

Engagement of students, families, and communities – develop additional ways to promote pupil voice to inform the education system, find innovative ways to partner with the social services sector to support families and deal with mental health and wellbeing.

Governance and leadership – redesign governance arrangements to give greater prominence to education professionals and other stakeholders in decision-making, create a leadership narrative that highlights the importance of innovation in learning and teaching.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the digital world – an urgent exploration of the implications of AI for education and work with universities, teachers’ organisations, businesses, parents, students and community, to support measured implementation, and take account of the likelihood of an increasing digital divide associated with access to AI.

Equity and excellence – define, in collaboration with key stakeholders, equity and excellence in education in coherent ways to better serve improving policies and practices, and upgrade data collection to assess the effectiveness of policy initiatives and progress.

The report concludes: “The need for change is clear and expectations are high. We need to have the wisdom and the will to exercise creativity and high-quality thinking when it comes to resource allocation, and to implement direct on the ground interventions that will mean the most to education professionals in providing the best education for their students.

“New and agile ways of working should be pursued so that equity and excellence can still flourish during austere times. Even as Scotland works through the immediate challenges, it should keep an eye on the future. With creative thinking, thoughtful planning and skilful management, simple and effective measures now can bring about positive developments within Scottish education in the longer term.”

First published: 14 November 2023

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