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Somerville defends taking reform guidance from organisations facing scrapheap

The Scottish Government is taking guidance on reforming the education system (David Jones/PA)
The Scottish Government is taking guidance on reforming the education system (David Jones/PA)

Scotland’s Education Secretary has defended the decision to shape education reform on guidance from organisations that are set to be scrapped.

Bosses from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland are among the advisers included on the Education Reform Board launched by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government pledged to replace both organisations after a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommended major reforms.

Fiona Robertson and Gayle Gorman, the chief executives of the respective organisations, are among the officials guiding the future of Scottish education, according to a list first obtained by The Times newspaper.

Minister appointments – Scottish Parlliament
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has said the reform group will be balanced (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA)

But Shirley-Anne Somerville insisted the advisory group will be balanced and will hear from people across the education spectrum.

It will also include Scottish Government officials and representatives from Cosla and teachers’ trade unions.

Speaking to the PA News Agency, she said: “Importantly, there is one person that is in charge of education reform and that is me.

“I’m absolutely determined to drive forward the type of change that we need.

“It’s important that we have new agencies which are different and perform and function in a different way.

“And the way that we do that correctly is, yes, we need to, of course, hear from the agencies as they are at the moment.

“But that’s exactly why the unions are involved to make sure that they have an important voice.”

She added: “In the end, I will take the decisions and I am absolutely determined to drive through reform where we really see more of an improvement for Scottish education and it’s something that delivers even better than we do at the moment for children and young people.”

Ms Somerville also said the operating models for the replacement organisations will be in place by the end of the calendar year.

She added: “There’s a lot of work to do to make sure that we get that right but that is exactly why we have ensured that as well as people from Government and from the agencies, we have got their unions involved to make sure that the staff have an important voice.

“And we’ve also ensured that we’ve got some critical friends there to make sure that we’re developing this reform package as bold and as radical as it needs to be.

“I’m absolutely determined to deliver on that because I see a real opportunity to create a step change in Scottish education where we have agencies that deliver for teachers and staff in that way they deliver for young people.”