Last week the long-awaited OECD review into the Curriculum for Excellence was published. It must have been difficult reading for the previous Education Secretary, who saw many of his reforms criticised, and sobering reading for his successor as it laid bare the sheer scale of the task and challenges in front of her.
Its content should have come as no surprise to anyone, however. Its diagnosis of the issues was wide ranging, as were its remedies, but all of these things had been central to the debate for years now.
The government has accepted all the OECD recommendations, but I do not believe they accept the scale of the challenges ahead. Their timetable for action lacks the ambition that is required. I therefore set out a “timetable of ambition” for Scottish education.
It has four elements:
1. A new independent inspectorate should be created immediately through Executive Action, removing it from being the responsibility of Education Scotland. Summer would be the ideal time to do this.
2. The remaining curriculum responsibilities must be taken from Education Scotland and merged with the SQA. New interim leadership must be put in place and ensure guidance is available for 2022 assessments when teachers return after the summer break. All of this can and should be done by mid-July.
3. The government must immediately begin negations with COSLA and teaching unions for a new teacher agreement. Class contact time for teachers must be reduced.
4. When the new inspectorate and permanent curriculum and assessment bodies are created, their chairpersons should be appointed by parliament. We must ensure not just a change of personnel but a shift in the culture of accountability and transparency too.
The time for action is now.
Michael Marra is Scottish Labour’s education spokesman
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