Professor Alma Harris advises on Scottish schools reform

Members of the ICEA, including Professor Harris, meeting in Edinburgh last week along with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Members of the ICEA, including Professor Harris, meeting in Edinburgh last week along with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

The principles underpinning Scotland’s school reforms have been strongly supported by the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA), a group which includes Professor Alma Harris from our Department of Education.

During two days of discussion in Hollyrood last week, which involved Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, the Council commended the considerable progress that has been made to improve the curriculum, assessments and school governance.

The group of international education advisors said they looked forward to seeing how the bold strategy is implemented to raise educational attainment for all. Specifically, they encouraged ministers to continue to build on what is going well and:

  • made suggestions about to how put learning and teaching at the heart of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives to ensure they provide the right level of support and expertise to schools;
  • put forward ideas about how to increase and deepen collaboration, including ensuring students and parents are engaged and have a voice;
  • highlighted opportunities to create new professional pathways to inspire and build leadership at all levels in Scottish education

In a joint statement, members of the ICEA said: “We can see clear and positive momentum in Scottish education, particularly in relation to the devolution of more power and resources directly to schools.

“We strongly support the principles underpinning these changes as it is important they are designed to improve education, rather than being structural change for its own sake.

“The Scottish Government now needs to continue to build on what is going well and recognise and address challenges. We have made a number of initial suggestions to improve learning and teaching, increase and deepen collaboration, and build leadership at all levels in the education system. We will now prepare a more complete report for ministers setting out actions to deliver our shared ambition for Scottish education.”

Professor Harris, who joined Bath last year, is part of a 10-strong panel made up of experts experienced at advising educators and governments around the world on education leadership, school improvement and reform in countries including the US, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Malaysia, Australia and the UK.

The International Council has two formal meetings each year and met for the first time in August 2016.

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