The Scottish Government will put pupils, teachers and parents at the heart of reform, the Education Secretary has said.

Shirley-Anne Somerville made a statement in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon confirming how the Government will work to reform the education system after a report from the OECD gave 12 recommendations for improvement.

The Cabinet Secretary said that the Government is accepting the 12 recommendations in full and will publish a response to each recommendation setting out how they will move forward.

And, Somerville announced that she is reconvening the Scottish Education Council, while also creating a new Children and Young People’s Education Council to sit alongside it, with both given equal weighting. 

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It comes as Professor Ken Muir CBE, former Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, was named as the person who will head up the work to replace the SQA with a new agency that will deal with both the curriculum and assessments. 

Somerville told MSPs that the OECD report “endorsed the continued relevance and ambition” of the Curriculum for Excellence (CFE), and complimented it’s “bold, aspirational, future-orientated approach”.

But, there were recommendations for improvement, one of which was to listen to young people and those involved in the education system, and the Education Secretary laid out her plans to move forward. 

Speaking in Holyrood, she said: “It has been 10 years since CFE was established, it is right and proper that we review how it is implemented. So too must we seek to learn from the events brought about by the pandemic, the OECD report notes there are areas we need to work on to make sure our curriculum remains fit for now and the future.

The National:  “I’ve already made clear my intention to work with all of those in education to deliver the reform that is required to improve outcomes. We must ensure our children and young people can fully benefit from a coherent learning experience from the age of three up to the age of 18. 

“As the OECD has recommended, I’m absolutely committed to putting the voices of young people, parents, teachers and schools, as well as other stakeholders, at the centre of our education policy.

“That is why I am today announcing that I will reconvene the Scottish Education Council with a refreshed membership and renewed purpose to support the delivery of the OECD recommendations as well as wider education policy as we move on from Covid-19.”

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Young people will have seats on the SEC but Somerville added that she wants the voices of those most affected by any education changes to always be “heard loudly and clear in strategic discussions”. 

She said: “I am also establishing a Children and Young People’s Education Council to sit alongside the Scottish Education Council. 

“I will chair both of these and their input and advice will have parity of esteem. I want consideration of the lived experience of young people, current teachers, leaders and other practitioners to be fundamental to the work I do and decisions I make as Education Secretary.

The National:

“It is essential that we take a right-spaced approach and that we achieve genuine parity of esteem for young people’s view.”

A statement on behalf of the SQA, Education Scotland and Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) said: “We welcome the OECD report and its endorsement of the continued relevance and ambition of Curriculum for Excellence.

“This review is a positive opportunity to secure improvement in a range of areas, and will help all of us in Scotland to look at what we want from our curriculum in the longer term, and what we need to do to achieve this.

“We share a common commitment to working together to implement the recommendations of the report and to ensure that the curriculum contributes as effectively as possible to the education and development of all young people in Scotland.”

It comes as Muir was confirmed as the person who will be in charge of the work to replace the SQA, will also look at reforms to Education Scotland, with an advisory panel, including removing the function of inspection from the agency.

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Professor Muir said: “Education systems across the world are changing as the world in which we live changes. I look forward to engaging widely with all stakeholders as part of my work.

“I want to understand fully their needs and listen to their suggestions on how we build on current strengths and how we might re-imagine, design and implement reforms into our education system that will truly respond to the future needs of every community and every child and young person.”

The Education Secretary intends to outline plans for awarding national qualifications in 2022 by the start of the new school term this August, taking into account the most up-to-date position with the pandemic.