The Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment report “It’s Our Future” was published today after a year of work led by Professor Louise Hayward. The group brought together young people, teachers, parents, and academics to create recommendations for the Scottish Government to consider in their work to reform the Scottish Education system.
While responding to the report in the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth announced that legislation on reform, including to establish new education bodies will only be introduced after Ministers have had time to review the content of this and other recent reports.
How did we get here?
Recognising the need to look to the future, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills at the time, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, announced in October 2021 the intention to reform qualifications and assessments. This was influenced by:
- Recommendations in the OECD’s independent review of Scotland’s school curriculum.
- The Covid-19 pandemic and a renewed debate around assessment following the cancellation of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020 and 2021.
- Professor Gordon Stobart’s OECD paper setting out possible options for Scotland’s future approach to assessment and qualifications.
- Professor ken Muir’s Report (2022) Putting Learners at the Centre.
How have young people been involved?
Young people were invited to have a seat at the table on the independent review of qualifications and assessments by Professor Hayward, the academic leading the review. Since May 2022, two MSYPs – Beinn Grant MSYP and Ruby Cardie MSYP, who replaced Zainab Adeleye MSYP in December 2022 – have been part of the Independent Review Group (IRG) and attended monthly IRG meetings to share their views and experience of education in Scotland.
As a member of the IRG, MSYPs also engaged with a Collaborative Community Group (CCG) of young people from a diverse range of learners from across Scotland, ensuring their unique experiences were then shared at the monthly IRG meetings.
Speaking about the experience, Ruby said:
I am very grateful to represent learners with Beinn Grant MSYP on the Independent Review Group (IRG) on Qualifications and Assessments. the IRG was a special experience because we worked hard to meaningfully blend views from up and down Scotland on qualifications and assessments to create a report centred on rights-based education. Which is a perfect example of the importance of properly listening to and acting upon the views of learners themselves.Ruby Cardie MSYP
Beinn reflected on his experience and what he hopes happens next saying:
“I can’t describe how incredibly grateful I am for the opportunity to have been involved in Prof. Hayward’s Independent Review on Qualification and Assessment. Having been involved in the process from the start I know how challenging it has been to bring together people from every aspect in our society to co-design one collective vision for how Qualifications and Assessment and Scottish Education as a whole, should work.
“Throughout the process Prof. Hayward and other IRG members were actively seeking our input and making us feel heard. Prof. Hayward’s genuine interest in our perspectives has been incredibly empowering and has reinforced my belief that Young People can and should be meaningfully involved in decision-making processes.
“I would like to thank my fellow MSYP Ruby Cardie, and our amazing SYP staff member Mo Whelton for their unwavering support, hard work and dedication. Together, along with our Community Collaborative Groups (CCG), we have spent a year working on this review which I believe will keep the UNCRC at its heart as it supports the young people of the future on their own learner journeys. It’s vital, however, that opportunities for widespread collaboration and youth involvement like this aren’t a one-off chance but rather the new norm for reforms in Scotland.”
What happens next?
Young people have been clear throughout the past few years that engagement with them in decision-making on education cannot be a one-off event. SYP are very grateful to Professor Hayward for putting young people’s participation at the heart of this work and truly focusing on what is best for all learners when thinking of the future of Scottish education. However, including young people’s voices in developing the review is only the first step, the often harder second step is for Scottish Government to listen to and value those opinions and continue engaging with young people in any further consultation and the implementation of reforms. We look forward to seeing the next steps from Scottish Government to understand how they will incorporate the views and rights of young people into them.
That will be the real test of if the future of qualifications and assessment in Scottish education will work for the young people at the centre of it.