We want to urge decision-makers to take a rights-based approach to education reform to close the attainment gap and as part of the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
‘Education Times’ magazine
In October 2023, we published a ‘magazine’ detailing all of our work on education from over the last 18 months. MSYPs involved in each area of work contributed articles to the publication. Features covered in the magazine include our UN Committee Evidence, the National Discussion, external groups such as the Scottish Education Council and the Independent Review Group, which focused on assessment and qualifications.
The current situation in Scotland
Scottish education is going through reform. A number of reports, which SYP have fed into, will help shape the future of education in Scotland, they include:
Ken Muir Review
Professor Ken Muir was appointed to act as an independent advisor to the Scottish Government to consider and advise on the implementation of the reform that will consider all functions currently delivered by both SQA and Education Scotland. The consultation ran from September until November 2021. Professor Muir made several recommendations, including that both the SQA and Education Scotland should be replaced. The report, Putting Learners at the Centre, also recommended that the inspections function from Education Scotland should revert to a third, new independent body.
National Discussion on Education
The Scottish Government called the National Discussion “a once-in-a-generation opportunity for teachers and learners to make their views on education known”. The Government asked: “What kind of education, skills, knowledge and support do you think young people will need 20 years from now?”. The “All Learners in Scotland Matter” report on the National Discussion was presented to the Scottish Government in May 2023 by Professor Carol Campbell and Professor Alma Harris, the Independent Facilitators who led the process.
Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment
In 2020, for many young people, their initial examination results were amended to reflect the judgements originally submitted by their teachers. In 2021, moderation took place in schools and local authorities. In some subject areas, there were significant increases in grades awarded than those achieved in previous years. Such disruption has been experienced in many countries and has encouraged nations to reflect on the longer-term future of qualifications.
Professor Muir’s review Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education suggested that the curriculum narrows in the Senior Phase and becomes a teaching to exam process. He argued that this is not aligned with the vision for Curriculum for Excellence and is not consistent with the approach taken in primary and BGE. Further, he suggested that the evidence gathered suggested that the Senior Phase does not adequately prepare young people for further learning or working because of its focus on knowledge gathering, at the detriment of developing skills/attributes.
Over the past year, MSYPs have contributed to the Independent Review led by Professor Louise Hayward into these recommendations from Professor Muir’s review, which was published in June 2023.
Our campaign approach & calls
SYP projects and policy work have both contributed to our education attainment campaign. We are now bringing together all of the different work, listed below, we have been doing on education in Scotland to support MSYPs to campaign for rights-based education reform.
Our campaign calls, taken from our response to the National Discussion include:
- Rights-based approach – Decision-makers should embed the vision of article 29 of the UNCRC into the system to give young people an education that fully develops their personality, talents and abilities.
- Meaningful participation of young people in decision-making on education – Decision-makers must improve on previous practice to embed article 12 respecting meaningful participation within education systems, to overcome power imbalances in embedded cultures.
- ‘Skills-based’ approach that prepares young people for the future – SYP advocate for an education system that, changes the definition of a ‘successful learner’ to move away from the expectation that all successful young people go to university, and by updating the curriculum to include teaching on skills young people might need in later life.
- Value of youth work – The role of youth work is critical and it should be protected from funding cuts. Young people told us that when they have more opportunities to try different activities individuals can explore what they enjoy and in return learn more about themselves, their own needs and develop their individual skills through the activities they enjoy most.
What action has SYP taken so far
- We worked with the Children’s Parliament and Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, to consult with children and young people to feed into Professor Ken Muir’s report to the Scottish Government.
- SYP submitted a consultation response to the National Discussion using information MSYPs shared during workshops during our education day in November 2022.
- Our new SQA Advisory Group is made up of 10 MSYP’s. It is a follow on from the Leaner Panel. The new format is to try and encourage more meaningful participation. The format has MSYPs as chair and co-chair, and all members undergo training for further development, with a group charter, allowing more ownership for young people.
- Since May 2022, two MSYPs – Beinn Grant MSYP and Ruby Cardie MSYP, who replaced Zainab Adeleye MSYP in December 2022, have worked with Professor Louise Hayward’s Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment. MSYPs attend Independent Review Group meetings and have worked closely with the Professor to ensure young people are involved.
- SYP Chair Mollie McGoran was invited to the First Minister’s Anti-Poverty Summit in May 2023. Mollie raised the importance of youth work to children and young people. Mollie also spoke about youth work as a part of the education system at our Annual Cabinet Meeting.
- During SYP’s Scottish Parliament exhibition in May 2023, the SYP Board and staff team discussed our education calls with MSPs.
- SYP is represented on several strategic boards and groups. MSYPs currently sit on the Scottish Government’s Anti-Racist Education Programme, Gender Equality in Education group, National Participatory Budgeting Strategy Group and the SQA’s National Qualifications group.