Briefings & Evidence

Response to Scottish Government’s Education Bill consultation

The Scottish Government’s consultation on the forthcoming Education Bill, which will legislate for a qualifications body (to replace SQA) and an inspection agency (to replace the existing function in Education Scotland) closed yesterday. The Education Bill will establish a new qualifications body for Scotland, which will have similar functions to SQA but will also have an accreditation function for non-SQA qualifications (the consultation says that this will be for all awarding bodies offering qualifications in Scotland apart from universities) and a new Inspectorate body, which will take over functions from Education Scotland.

We have concentrated our response on the arrangements for the new qualifications body (since these qualifications are important for admissions and for preparation for university study for many students) and the new inspectorate.

Our response on the qualifications body covers many of our points made on the proposals in the Hayward review, and more generally in our submission to the call for evidence for the review.

The consultation proposes that the new inspectorate body has responsibility for inspections in colleges and we have said that we do not think that publicly funded colleges should be included as it cuts across the work of the tertiary quality framework and the commission to QAA Scotland to develop and deliver reviews (and enhancement activity) across colleges and universities. We believe that these new arrangements could be the foundation of the common approach to quality that the Withers review calls for.

We think that the expertise and experience that exists in our universities, including specialists in teaching practice and pedagogy, should be drawn upon to support the work of both the new qualifications body and the new approach to inspection.

We have also highlighted that this legislation could be an opportunity to enable the sharing of data on eligibility for free school meals between local authorities and UCAS. This would enable its use in contextual admissions for universities to make progress with the pressing need for an individual focussed measure of disadvantage.