Education bill ‘lacks detail’ warn MSPs
Committee urges the Scottish Government to be more radical with Education reform
The Scottish Government’s new Education Bill lacks detail and was not consulted on adequately, according to the parliamentary committee tasked with scrutinising it.
In a report on the progress of the bill at stage 1, the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee said the aim of reducing the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils would require more detail and coordination than what is laid out on the policy aims of the bill.
“There is not currently a comprehensive definition or measurement of ‘attainment’ across all ages, which could be expected to have implications for attempting to narrow the attainment gap,” the report said.
The cross party group of MSPs also said the Government should explain why wider consultation didn’t take place before the bill was published.
“We highlight that the Scottish Government did not consult on all sections of the Bill in advance of its introduction, in part because some provisions were added at a late stage. We acknowledge the Scottish Government’s prerogative to introduce provisions later on, but this made our scrutiny more difficult,” they said.
The Committee’s convener, Stewart Maxwell MSP said the attainment gap was a “source of concern” for all members.
"Over the past 50 years there has been a great deal of work focussed on narrowing this gap and improving the opportunities for some of the most deprived children in our society. While the Committee supports the general principles of the Bill, we believe a more radical approach may be required and this Bill needs to be part of that.
"This Bill, together with other measures announced by the Scottish Government, seeks to make a difference. This means there has to be a clear understanding of exactly what would be required to deliver improvement.
“We also believe the Scottish Government and local authorities should consult widely, to ensure their reports on tackling the attainment gap are as useful as possible. It is in no-one’s interests for reports simply to list actions taken. What is needed is an understanding of what works so that positive outcomes can be repeated throughout the country.”
Meanwhile a trade union representing school improvement officers and other senior education professionals warned against using the recently announced standardised testing to rank school performance.
in a statement from the Aspect group of the Prospect union, executive committee members Tommy Doherty and Paul Watson said re-introducing standardised national testing would not raise standards.
“Weighing the pig does not fatten it. Furthermore, it would increase the workload of teachers and pupils and only provide crude comparative data on schools,” they said.
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