Education reforms need to be evidence-based, warns RSE

Written by Tom Freeman on 14 February 2018 in News

Schools reforms need more time, investment and evidence to support the proposals, warns the Royal Society of Edinburgh

School work - Dominic Lipinski / PA

The Scottish Government’s proposed changes to the education system need to be backed by more evidence, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) has warned.

In its response to the ‘Empowering Schools’ consultation, the group of academics make a number of criticisms of a lack of detail or evidence to back up the plans.

The proposed bill would give more power to head teachers, establish collaborative bodies for councils to work together and replace the General Teaching Council Scotland with an Education Workforce Council.

Education Secretary John Swinney has said the reforms would follow the recommendations of an OECD report on Scottish Education to “strengthen the middle” of the system and reboot the Curriculum for Excellence.

In its report the RSE warned the Scottish Government was in danger of “repeating past mistakes” while issues with CfE remain unresolved.

It called for a “comprehensive review of the evidence base”.

“The proposed school governance reforms need to be set against the capacity of the system to respond,” it said.

It added: “The assumption is that the new governance arrangements will be rolled-out throughout Scotland simultaneously, irrespective of schools’ readiness and willingness. This potentially risks creating a culture of grudging compliance.”

The RSE was supportive of the idea of a “school-led system”, but warned that headteachers would need “career-long professional development” and “unequivocal” lines of accountability.

The Scottish Government had presented no evidence to support replacing GTCS, it added.

“Without this evidence, the proposal is at risk of expending time, resource and energy on unnecessary structural change.”

Teaching union the EIS also opposes the creative of a new supervisory body, warning it may not be independent of government.

The Scottish Government has said the reforms were to give schools more power and close the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils.

A spokesperson said: "Our reform proposals are based on international evidence of how high-performing education systems work - and will deliver extra help for teachers in the classroom, more professional development and a stronger voice for parents and pupils.

"We welcome feedback in response to our consultation on the Education (Scotland) Bill and will consider all the responses received."




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