‘Capacity building in educational leadership and professional learning’; ‘Building collaboration and collective responsibility in Scottish education’ and ‘What works educationally to close the equity gap’ are the areas identified by the new panel of international experts appointed by Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Member for Education, John Swinney, in May.
“My absolute focus is to bring about success for all of Scotland’s young people”
The two-day council meeting held at the beginning of this month commenced with discussion of the current state of Scottish education. Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan chair in education at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and a member of the OECD team that recently reviewed Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, presented the review’s findings.
John Swinney chaired the second day’s business, which involved “an in-depth discussion about how to address the attainment gap and the Scottish Government’s school governance review”.
The event also included a number of visits to schools to meet teachers and pupils.
The panel is to meet twice a year. Along with Hargreaves, it comprises of: educationalist Alma Harris of the University of Malaya; Finnish expert Pasi Sahlberg; Carol Campbell, education adviser to the Ontario administration; Chris Chapman of the University of Glasgow; Graham Donaldson, consultant and international adviser for OECD; Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money; Avis Glaze, former Ontario Education Commissioner; Pak Tee Ng of Singapore’s National Institute of Education; and Allison Skerrett, associate professor in Language and Literacy Studies at the University of Texas.
Swinney said: “My absolute focus is to bring about success for all of Scotland’s young people, while at the same time closing the attainment gap caused by poverty that persists in our schools.
“We are already taking a range of actions but we want to go further and find innovative, proven methods that can be used in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, a government spokesman dismissed claims that the venture was an attempt to re-position Scotland post-Brexit, pointing to Theresa May’s announcement of the venture.
It was also denied that there was any likelihood of Scotland rejoining the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) league tables.
The decision to withdraw was cited as a cost-saving move, however it has attracted criticism from some researchers who believe that the withdrawals have impacted on teaching standards.