"Fast-tracking education reforms" or U-turn on Education (Scotland) Bill? (Updated)

The reform of education in Scotland will be 'fast-tracked', following a joint agreement between Scottish Government and local councils

By Dougie Atkinson, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland)

26 June 2018 (update 25 June 2019 below)

“In an unexpected and intriguing development today, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced to the Scottish Parliament that although he would be proceeding to publish his promised Education Bill, he would not be introducing it to Parliament. He said that he had reached an agreement with COSLA about how to take forward key elements of the school reform agenda, but without a statutory foundation.

John Swinney has found himself between a rock and a hard place. He has clearly not managed to secure a consensus amongst the education community in Scotland on how reform is driven forward and what should or shouldn’t be in an Education Bill, so he has agreed with local authority employers a range of features for reform work, including:

  • a new Headteachers' Charter;
  • changes to parental and community engagement;
  • agreed positions on pupil participation and on Regional Collaboratives work; and
  • has committed to a three-year £46million funding package to support that reform work.

In a cute twist, publishing the Bill will mean that it will hang over councils like the sword of Damocles in case they don’t make adequate progress!

The proposal to create a new Education Workforce Council, however, appears to have run into the ground. That may prove to be an opportunity missed and be a disappointment to early years professionals in particular, but Voice Scotland will keep an eye on how GTCS takes forward itsr thinking about what widening registration might look like. We had lobbied for early years professionals to be brought into any Workforce Council to provide better support and a more integrated approach to professional development.

Update: 25 June 2019

Deputy First Minister John Swinney updated Parliament on the 'significant progress' made throughout the last year and confirmed the Scottish Government would not introduce an Education Bill as a result.

Further information (June 2018):

Scottish Government's news release

Full text of the Deputy First Minister’s statement to Parliament

Full details of the agreement with COSLA

The draft Education Bill and associated documents

The International Council of Education Advisers’ first formal report

Voice Official Response 2301: Empowering Schools: A consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill


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