28th November 2018

Education Bill?

Read the blog by Connect's Sara McFarlane to find out what has happened to the Education Bill

In June, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney published a draft of the Scottish Government’s Education Bill. However, he also announced he would not be presenting it to Parliament for MSPs to review, amend and vote on. Instead, the Scottish Government and COSLA, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, came to an agreement where local authorities would carry out the changes.

So what does this mean? Changes can now happen sooner, as they don’t have to wait for Parliamentary processes. It now depends on local councils carrying them out.

Since the Education Bill did not go through Parliament, the changes are not backed up by law. However, John Swinney has said he may still present the Bill to Parliament at a future date (though this is a sore point with the councils!).

What will these changes be? The Scottish Government and COSLA published their agreement and National Action Plan, which outlines what they want to happen in schools. Government, COSLA and many other organisations involved with education are now working through what that might look like in practice. The Government’s Learning Together plan for parental engagement is being included in this work.

The key areas are:

The Headteacher’s Charter

As part of the whole move to empower school communities, the powers and responsibilities of head teachers will change. This is likely to include areas such as working with parents and the wider school community, the school curriculum, school development priorities and school budgets.

Parental engagement and involvement

Learning Together covers a lot of ground! Government says it wants to shift from schools ‘involving’ parents to ‘collaborating with.’ This includes supporting parental engagement and involvement in funded early learning and childcare settings; supporting willing parents to get involved in improvement activity and policy development; supporting Parent Councils to be partners in school improvement; and providing a range of opportunities to engage because formal meetings don’t work for everyone.

·         Parental engagement, family learning and learning at home: This should focus on the strengths within families and communities, as well as strong partnerships between early learning and childcare and schools, the NHS, the third sector, community organisations and others. The Scottish Government will provide a national package of guidance and training on parental engagement in learning, alongside parental involvement in school life.

·         Equalities and Equity: All parents should have access to support and advice, but it is important to be aware how family circumstances, such as poverty, background and connections with the community impact parents’ confidence; steps need to be taken to offset these.

·         Leadership and skills: This is important for parents and carers as well as those who work with and support their children. Networks will be created to help develop these.

·         Evidence, inspection and improvement: the Action Plan says Education Scotland will continue to make sure it hears the voice of parents as part of inspection. Evidence will be gathered through the National Improvement Framework, Growing Up in Scotland survey, and a pilot of a national survey of parents.

Pupil participation

Headteachers will have a responsibility to make sure pupils have the chance to be involved in decisions made about their learning, the school, and the wider community.

Watch this space!

This is a very short outline of many, many changes that are likely to come through over the next months and years: we’ll try to keep you up to date as things become clearer. In the meantime is the Learning Together document being discussed at your school?