Government ‘must be brave’ in leading education reforms, with focus on rights, early years and meeting all learners’ needs
10 March 2022
Children in Scotland has welcomed the emphasis on children’s rights, the early years and meeting all learners’ needs in Professor Ken Muir’s education reform report, published yesterday.
But the charity also warned that implementation success depends on the Scottish Government being bold and taking forward the recommendations at appropriate speed.
Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:
“The Scottish Government could make a significant difference to the education of young people in Scotland if they lead on these recommendations with confidence and bravery.
“We welcome many of the guiding principles and proposals set out in Professor Muir’s report, including:
- The focus on a child rights approach, with Article 29 of the UNCRC explicitly referred to
- Increased recognition of the role and value of the early years
- A review of the roles and purposes of assessment, so that it is not leading learning
- Learners’ voices, experiences, perspectives and rights being central to decision-making
- Trusting relationships between children, young people and teachers
- Greater resourcing and attention placed on ensuring that the needs of individual leaners are met, as set out in Angela Morgan’s review of additional support for learning.
“Some of these core principles closely align with our own project work and evidence.
"The emphasis on trusting relationships, for example, links to our diversity in teaching project with the GTCS and Intercultural Youth Scotland, while focus on individual learners echoes calls made by the Inclusion Ambassadors network.
“We are also encouraged by the Scottish Government’s responses to some of the key report recommendations, including:
- Their commitment to ensuring that all children, young people and learners are placed at the heart of discussions about the renewed vision (recommendations 1 and 2) and that children’s rights as described by the UNCRC are embedded throughout our education system
- Their promise that assessments, including examinations, should follow from the purposes of the curriculum, and not be seen to lead them (in response to recommendations 3, 4, 5 on the new qualifications authority with a revised governance structure to include more representation from and accountability to all learners)
- Their acceptance of the absolute centrality of co-designing education policy, responding to recommendations 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 covering the setting up of a new national agency with a participative approach to governance in all of its work
- Their pledge to introduce specific proposals to consult with the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sector before the summer, in response to recommendations 13, 14, 15, and 16 calling for the new independent Inspectorate to re-engage with the Care Inspectorate to agree a shared inspection framework designed to reduce the burden on ELC
- Their commitment to act on points 17, 18 and 19, which urge the Scottish Government and other national bodies to collaborate more effectively to ensure that policies align well with each other and with any revised vision for Scottish education, leading, we hope, to better joined-up work across directorates.
“These are welcome public promises and strong foundations for progress but to make a difference for children and young people the Scottish Government must:
- Be brave and confident, using these principles as an opportunity to lead genuine change to our education system
- Take forward the recommendations with appropriate speed and depth, ensuring that change is experienced by learners and is not cosmetic
- Follow the call in our 2021-26 Manifesto that wellbeing should be the central focus of Scottish education and at the heart of changes in vision, values and systems
- Deliver on calls made by the Inclusion Ambassadors in Angela Morgan’s review of additional support for learning about making meeting all learners' needs a real priority
- Deliver on the promise of embedding a child rights approach at all levels – in the classroom, in governance, across the wider life of school, and at local authority and national levels.”