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Rennie demands timetable for education reforms

February 18, 2021 3:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today written to Education Secretary John Swinney to call for a timetable for the Scottish Government to respond to yesterday's education vote which called for Education Scotland to be separated into independent inspection and policy functions and reforms to the SQA as well as the release of an interim report into the OECD's review of Scottish education.

Mr Rennie's letter is as follows:

Dear John,

I am writing to you to request a timetable for the Scottish Government to respond to yesterday's vote in the Scottish Parliament.

Parliament has recognised the strength of Scottish Liberal Democrat arguments and made its view clear. The Scottish Government must now acknowledge and begin work to implement the will of Parliament with Education Scotland separated into independent inspection and policy functions and reforms to ensure that the SQA is grounded in the teaching profession.

We need the organisations in charge of Scottish education to get out of the way of teachers, and in must come an education system overseen by people with current and direct teaching experience.

In this crisis teachers have been creative, dedicated, full of good ideas. They know what their pupils need. We can't say that of Education Scotland and the SQA.

What's more, in last night's debate, MSPs from a range of parties have also called for the Scottish Government to publish the OECD education report now with ministers. As Parliament made clear, leaving this document in the hands of ministers and the same organisations it is intended to critique for months of editing is not appropriate, especially when it risks such a significant report remaining unpublished until after the forthcoming election. The public deserve to have all the facts when they make up their minds. I believe that you would have the support of all parties in writing to the OECD to ask for the publication of an interim report as swiftly as possible.

Please find attached a copy of my amended motion passed by Parliament.

Yours sincerely, Willie Rennie.

The amended motion backed by Parliament is as follows:

That the Parliament believes that the support, services and decision-making provided by Education Scotland and the SQA have not met the expectations or requirements of hardworking teachers, pupils or parents throughout the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; recalls that serious concerns existed about the performance and structure of these organisations for years before the pandemic struck, including those expressed by Parliament in its resolution on the debate on motion S5M-04920 on 29 March 2017; considers that there is compelling evidence that neither body is fit for purpose and that they have lost the confidence of teachers, pupils and parents, and therefore calls for substantial reform as part of the recovery of education, with Education Scotland separated into independent inspection and policy functions and the SQA to be grounded in the teaching profession and made more accountable, and expresses concern about the reported involvement of both organisations and the Scottish Government in the ongoing OECD review.and, given the urgency of the matter and limited opportunity for scrutiny, and in the spirit of full transparency, calls on the Scottish Government to immediately release any findings already reportedly delivered to the Scottish Ministers by the OECD.

ENDS