John Swinney names international education advisory panel

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 July 2016 in News

John Swinney reveals international experts who will advise on education policy, as well as a panel of teachers to examine curriculum workload

Education secretary John Swinney has appointed a panel of experts to advise the Scottish Government on policy for schools and closing the attainment gap between rich and poor.

The group of ten advisers includes international figures with the aim of learning on best practice from around the world. There are figures from the USA, Canada, Scandinavia, Malaysia and Australia.

Moves to set up the group were made following the list of priorities announced when the SNP formed its minority government after May’s election.


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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs it would “challenge and scrutinise” SNP education policy, after her government faced criticism for pulling out of international attainment measures PIRLS and TIMMS.

Swinney, speaking as the members were revealed, said: “The International Council of Education Advisers will bring a global perspective from highly qualified educators with expertise shaping and delivering education reforms around the world.”

The panel includes well-known educationalist Professor Alma Harris of the University of Malaya, who praised Scotland in 2014 for “putting the focus back on equality” in education.

She will be joined by Finnish expert Dr Pasi Sahlberg, who told Holyrood in 2014 Scotland should “find your own way” instead of emulating other countries.

Other members include Dr Carol Campbell, Education Adviser to the Ontario administration; Professor Chris Chapman of the University of Glasgow; Professor Graham Donaldson, consultant and international adviser for OECD; Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money; Dr Avis Glaze, former Ontario Education Commissioner; Professor Andy Hargreaves of Boston College, a member of the OECD team that recently reviewed Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence; Dr Pak Tee Ng of Singapore’s National Institute of Education; and Dr Allison Skerrett, associate Professor in Language and Literacy Studies at the University of Texas.

They will meet twice a year.

Swinney also revealed that a panel of teachers will be set up to examine measures to reduce teacher workload, which the Deputy First Minister himself will chair. Members will be appointed after recommendations from Education Scotland and the Scottish College of Education Leadership.

“Both [panels] will challenge and scrutinise our plans for education and ensure we consider the best evidence and expertise from our classrooms and around the world. I look forward to meeting both panels next month,” he said

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