Think tank says ‘abolish and replace schools watchdog’

Reform Scotland says the Scottish Government’s education agency 'is not fit for purpose'.

Think tank says ‘abolish and replace schools watchdog’ iStock
Reform Scotland says the education agency should be replaced.

Education Scotland has “palpably failed” and should be abolished, a think tank has said.

Reform Scotland says the Scottish Government’s education agency “is not fit for purpose” and should be replaced by an independent education inspectorate.

The think tank’s school reform commission – led by one of the Curriculum for Excellence authors, Keir Bloomer – has published a manifesto of policy ideas for Scottish education.

It contains calls for increased school and headteacher autonomy, including over the curriculum, as well as reforms to teacher education and their professional development.

Mr Bloomer said: “Scottish school education is coasting. It lacks creativity and it lacks the capacity for innovation.

“We should not disparage our schooling for poor quality, but nor should we deceive ourselves into believing that it is world-leading. It is not.

“If we want to be proud of our schooling system, and to be able to credibly claim it to be world-leading, we need seismic change. What the commission proposes in this manifesto can be the start of a renaissance in Scotland’s schooling.

“However, it is up to politicians to make this happen. Our future is in their hands”

The call to abolish Education Scotland follows a vote in the last Scottish Parliament demanding the schools watchdog should be broken up and the Scottish Qualifications Authority be overhauled.

Mr Bloomer added: “The attempt to combine inspection, policy development and support for teachers in a single agency has palpably failed.

“Education Scotland is not fit for purpose.

“New, and more effective, arrangements are urgently needed.”

In the wake of the Government’s defeat in the parliamentary vote, tabled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Education Secretary John Swinney defended the two organisations and claimed criticism of them was “pathetic” and “shabby”.

He said: “It serves neither the country nor our children and young people to attack the contribution of some of those staff in Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualification Authority for their efforts.

“My amendment removes from this motion the gratuitous and unfounded criticism of the public servants in Education Scotland and the SQA who have worked hard, alongside local authority and school staff and many others, to ensure continuity of education for children and young people.”