SQA, Education Scotland replaced with new bodies

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Three new national organisations for education are to be created in Scotland in a major attempt “to drive improvement in education.”

A new public body will be responsible for developing and awarding qualifications.

It will replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and it will have “a governance structure that is more representative of, and accountable to, learners, teachers and practitioners.”

A national agency for education will see Education Scotland (ES) replaced.

The new executive agency will provide improved support and professional learning to teachers and schools, and provide advice and guidance on curriculum, assessment, learning and teaching.

Thirdly, a new and independent inspectorate body will be created. It will develop new inspection models and help to assess the overall performance of Scottish education.

The organisations will be required to work more closely with learners and education professionals.

There will be wide consultation on the development of the new education bodies, with a view to them becoming operational in 2024.  In the case of the qualifications body, this is expected to be following the completion of the 2024 exams.

“ES and SQA will continue to deliver their functions while the new bodies are being developed, ensuring continuity for learners, including those sitting exams,” said the Scottish Government.

The new organisations were announced as part of the Scottish Government’s response to a report on reform of the SQA and ES by independent adviser Professor Ken Muir of the University of the West of Scotland.

The Scottish Government has broadly accepted all of Professor Muir’s recommendations, including making a commitment to lead a national discussion on the vision for the future of education.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The three new education bodies will be underpinned by new values and governance. I have also announced my intention to work in partnership to build a new vision for Scottish education.

“These changes are designed to improve outcomes and build trust in Scotland’s education system. Our renewed system must reflect the culture and values we want to see embedded throughout; it must be a system that puts learners at the centre and provides excellent support for our teachers and practitioners.

“It must also be a system where there is clear accountability – democratic accountability, organisational accountability but also accountability to the learners, who have a right to expect the highest quality of learning and teaching while giving them the best chance of success.”

Professor Muir said: “As our students and society change over time, so too do our expectations of what we want and need from our education system. It is important that Scottish education reflects and responds to those changes in ways that offer opportunities for all current and future learners to thrive.

“The recommendations in my report are designed to ensure that the needs of every individual learner lie at the heart of all decisions taken and all that we do.

“They are designed to ensure that the voices of learners, teachers and practitioners have greater prominence and influence in decision making and that teachers and practitioners receive the support they need in carrying out their challenging and critically important teaching role.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.