‘Education reform board needs more teachers, not failed bodies’

The SQA should not have a say in the future direction of Scottish education, MSPs argued.

‘Education reform board needs more teachers, not failed bodies’ PA Media

A reform board on the future of Scottish education should include more teachers, the country’s education secretary has been told.

The call came as MSPs hit out at plans to allow organisations facing being scrapped to have an input into the future direction of Scottish education.

Bosses from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland are among the advisers on the Education Reform Board launched by the Scottish Government.

The appointments have come under scrutiny as both organisations are set to be abolished following an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report.

Last week, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said their inclusion provides a balanced view across the sector.

However, there are just three teachers involved in the reform plans, out of a 59-strong membership, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

The board also includes Government officials and trade union representatives included.

During a Holyrood debate on education excellence on Thursday, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Michael Marra, said Education Scotland and the SQA “refuse to believe they have been scrapped at all”.

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He said: “The Education Secretary telling us they are to be scrapped is a mere flesh wound for these organisations.

“The reform boards are packed with their leadership. They are hardly busting a gut to get those reports written.”

“The composition of the board is a problem.”

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Stephen Kerr, Scottish Conservative education spokesperson, said the changes to the organisations were proving to be “nothing more than a cosmetic exercise”.

“It is all the same people,” he said. “They will not deliver the change we need. It is time for some honesty.

“Are we really doing the best we can for our teachers, parents and children and young people? If this is our best, we should be ashamed.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Willie Rennie, said he was unconvinced that “real change” will occur.

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“We certainly need an awful lot more teachers on the bodies and the review groups because there is far too few at the current rate,” he added.

Somerville has previously outlined plans to complete the operation models for the replacement organisations by the end of the year.

“They are there to provide that input in the critical challenge,” said the education secretary.

“They are there to ensure, once again, that we achieve significant change in Scottish education and that is something that can’t be done by the Scottish Government alone.”

She said the report which recommended change was clear the transition should be progressed in partnership with existing organisations.

“We do need to ensure that we include the agencies we are replacing and we do need to ensure there are critical voices within that to ensure that I am held to my word on this,” she said.

“And addressing calls for more teacher involvement, the Education Secretary said trade unions who represent teachers are playing a significant part in the discussions.

Somerville added: “Unions are involved in this and I think you do a great disservice if they are not there to represent their members, who the last time I checked, were teachers.”