International advisers praise Scotland’s education policies

The International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) was established in 2016 to provide advice regarding education policies and practices to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to advance equity and excellence in the Scottish education system. This is the second formal report of the ICEA relating to our second two-year term (2018-2020) of work.

The link to the full report is below but these opening paragraphs might be of interest to opposition politicians and to Professor of Education Policy at Edinburgh University, Lindsay Paterson, as he prepares his next anti-SNP tirade on the BBC or in the Herald:

Scottish educational reforms were making steady progress prior to the
COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a significant commitment to developing
and strengthening early childhood education. Substantial pupil equity funding
has gone directly to schools via the Scottish Attainment Challenge. The
teaching profession has moved through periods of disputes with the government, but has also benefitted from Scotland’s increased commitment to
the profession, to professional empowerment, and to improving compensation
and working conditions. Leadership programmes have been developed for
teacher leadership, for middle level leaders, for deputies who want to be
heads, and for system leaders. Regional Improvement Collaboratives have
built greater collaboration between local authorities and started to benefit from the role of assigned challenge advisors and Education Scotland’s regional
teams. Many professional networks are emerging to enable sharing of
successful examples of what works across schools.

The government, with ICEA’s support, is continuing to try to balance and
integrate Curriculum for Excellence and the National Improvement
Framework, without one being eclipsed by the other. Until the later years of
secondary education, assessment continues to rely primarily on teachers’
professional judgment and has avoided falling into the trap of excess
standardised testing that continues to produce negative side effects in a
number of other systems. What has disrupted and also sharpened further
thinking is the experience of the pandemic and its impact on Scottish

12 thoughts on “International advisers praise Scotland’s education policies

  1. Some educational elite are part of the problem. They set the syllabus. They keep on criticising the Scottish Gov. Scotland has more university pro rata. 15 pop 5.4million. Colleges and apprenticeships. Tradespeople make a comfortable living. Life long learning. Care packages. Extra payments. Kinship payments. Student support. Westminster cuts mitigated. The Tories cut education funding £6Billion a year from 2015 to 2020. £30Billion


    1. I’ve just read The Scotsman article you refer to Gordon and skimmed through the ICEA’s report. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the former’s coverage. Far from being negative, the ICEA report is insightful and aspirational where it is offering an assessment of the status quo and going on to make recommendations for the future. The Scotsman article is framed in a way that seeks to ignore or at the very least downplay these contributions.

      The report was published on 17 December: has anyone spotted a BBC Scotland news report?

      I picked out a few quotes from the ICEA’s report that are unlikely to be reported more widely in Scotland.

      1) “The ICEA commends Scotland for developing teachers’ assessment capacities and use of teacher moderation, which are essential professional skills and practices for future assessments.”

      2) “Scotland was one of a small number of countries that introduced a radically different approach to curriculum development in the early years of this century. A lot of the innovative thinking that led to CfE (Curriculum for Excellence) is now reflected in curriculum approaches internationally and has echoes in the OECD’s 2030 Project.”

      Among the ICEA’s conclusions: 3) “In summary, the ICEA feels that Scottish education exhibits many strengths. It values equity as well as excellence. It has an excellent standing internationally. It is investing effort and resources to narrow attainment gaps, working with and strengthening the teaching profession, and developing collegial Regional Improvement Collaboratives.”

      And: 4) “Building on its foundational belief in equity and excellence, there is every chance that Scottish education can be a global standard bearer of education in a post-pandemic world.”

      I wonder: has BBC Scotland’s education expert, Jamie MacIvor read this report yet and if so, did he also spot these and other positives? Perhaps he has suggested covering this for Reporting Scotland – but then perhaps not! This is where’ bias by omission’ can be so very insidious – causing harm to the public’s general level of knowledge and to public perceptions but in an imperceptible fashion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For information, these are the members of the The International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) which was established in 2016:

        Dr Carol Campbell – Associate Professor of Leadership and Educational Change and Director of the Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

        Professor Christopher Chapman – Chris Chapman is Chair of Educational Policy and Practice at the University of Glasgow and Co-Director What Works Scotland

        Professor Graham Donaldson – education consultant and international adviser to the OECD

        Dr Avis Glaze – one of Canada’s outstanding educators with extensive experience in international education

        Professor Andy Hargreaves – President of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) and founder of the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory (ARC)

        Professor Alma Harris – Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the Department of Education, University of Bath

        Dr Pak Tee Ng – Associate Dean, Leadership and Learning, and Head of the Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group at the National Institute of Education, Singapore

        Professor Pasi Sahlberg – a Finnish educator, author and scholar, Professor of Education Policy at the University of New South Wales

        Professor Allison Skerrett – Associate Professor in Language and Literacy Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

        Lindsey Watt OBE – retired from teaching in February 2018 after nearly 40 years.

        For further information on the members’ credentials and on the work of the Council see:


      2. Haven’t watched Reporting Scotland today, but I suspect you’re correct.

        It must be tricky when one of those Scotsman liars appears at the Covid briefing, and you have to hide your feelings and thank him for the question.


  2. If the MSM report on this they will present the ‘recommendations’ as ‘room for improvement’ or ‘must do better’.

    The teacher unions have sent out a questionnaireThe Scottish Government has an InternationalCouncil of Advisers in Education (ICEA). Please give your views to this question:
    What do THEY know about Scottish education?
    A – nothing,
    B – f&** all.

    Please copy your responses to BBC Scotland, The Herald.


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