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Education (Scotland) Bill launched

Stronger focus on improving attainment among new provisions.

Efforts to boost educational outcomes – particularly among Scotland’s most disadvantaged children – are to be underpinned in law.

Education Secretary Angela Constance unveiled details of the Education (Scotland) Bill yesterday during a visit to St Mary’s RC Primary School in Leith.

New legislation will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the ‘attainment’ gap and require councils and Scottish Ministers to report on progress.

The Bill will also contains provisions to:

  • enhance children’s rights by extending the rights of children aged 12+ with capacity under the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004
  • promote Gaelic education by placing a duty on councils both to assess the need for Gaelic medium primary education following a parental request and to actively promote and support Gaelic learning and teaching in schools
  • ensure that all teachers in Scottish schools are appropriately trained and qualified by requiring all teaching staff within independent and grant aided schools to be registered with the General Teaching Council Scotland
  • improve the process, under section 70 of the 1980 Education Act, for dealing with complaints about councils and schools failing in their education duties, and
  • ensure senior managers within councils have the necessary qualifications and experience by providing for the creation of a Chief Education Officer post.

The Bill will support the Government’s existing work to raise educational standards and to raise attainment for all Scottish children.

The Bill’s introduction coincides with the announcement of an additional £1 million for councils to purchase textbooks and other resources to support the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

The money will enable councils to support schools as they move into the final phase of the introduction of the new qualifications, including help with the purchase of textbooks for the new Highers. Schools and councils can begin to spend this money immediately if they choose to do so.

Ms Constance said yesterday:

“This Government is absolutely committed to ensuring Scotland is the best place to grow up, with every child given the best chance to succeed, and the provisions of this Bill will help us achieve that aspiration. It contains a range of measures that will help strengthen the delivery of education in Scotland.

“Tackling educational inequality is at the heart of this government’s work. We have already announced the Attainment Challenge, supported by the £100 million Attainment Scotland fund, building on our Raising Attainment for All programme and Access to Education fund.

“Our Bill underlines our expectations of local councils in the process of addressing educational inequality. Specifically the Bill will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the attainment gap and introduce a new requirement for councils and Ministers to report on progress in achieving that. I look forward to the Parliamentary process where we can seek consensus on these provisions and the other measures that are being introduced in the Bill.

“I am also pleased to announce a further £1 million today for councils to help support schools as they move into the final phase of the introduction of the new qualifications.

“We are always listening to partners to successfully deliver Curriculum for Excellence and the new national qualifications. This money can be used by councils to help with the purchase of textbooks and other resources for the new Highers, and meet other local priorities for Curriculum for Excellence.”

Notes To Editors

Reaction to the Education (Scotland) Bill:

John Fyffe, ADES President, said:

“We welcome the Education (Scotland) Bill and the increased focus it places on the need deliver a better, more equitable education system for Scotland. The action being taken by the Scottish Government to address the disparity in outcomes faced by pupils from disadvantaged communities is positive as is their commitment to ensuring that each and every local authority has a Chief Education Officer. That Officer will play a key role, ensuring that our approach to the delivery of education is built on a clear understanding of what works. We look forward to working with Ministers and Parliament as the Bill is progressed.”

Reaction to the announcement of the additional £1 million for councils:

Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said:

“The EIS welcomes this new £1 million in funding which will support schools in the delivery of the new Higher courses. The introduction of CfE has inevitably brought some financial implications for schools, so it is very welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to teachers' concerns in making this additional investment which will allow school resources such as textbooks to be updated. This funding will be welcomed by pupils and parents as well as by teachers, as the purchase of these new resources can make a real difference to the young people preparing for these new qualifications."

Iain Ellis, Chair of National Parent Forum of Scotland, said:

“We welcome this additional funding to support our children as they prepare this year for the new qualifications. We would ask authorities to ensure that this extra money reaches all secondary schools and that Parent Councils are informed at school level as to how the money will be spent.”


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