The Strategic Leadership of Learning Masterclass


A Development Programme for Strategic Leaders of Education Services
In Edinburgh, Scotland, 14-18 May 2018

We are no longer taking bookings for this conference, but please do contact us if these issues are of interest 

The Scottish Education System

There is not a single UK wide education system, but four different systems within the UK, one in England, one in Wales, one in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland.  Scotland has always had it's own education system: this uniqueness is not the result of any recent political agreement such as the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.  The continuation of Scotland's unique system of education was in fact part of the Union of the (Scottish and English) Parliaments in 1707, and the system existed long before that.

This continuity of educational vision and evolution of practice has served Scotland well over the years, allowing the system to respond to current issues and needs at an international as well as a local level.  As just one example, the Scottish Education System reviewed it's own practice in 1947, concluding that, amongst other things:

It is clear therefore that our supreme requirement of the secondary school must be something which hitherto has been much less highly regarded, that is should provide a rich social environment where the adolescent grows in character and understanding through the interplay of personalities rather than by the imparting of knowledge.   


Another aspect of the same problem confronts us in the realisation that the rate of change has speeded up to a degree that makes the life of our forbearers seem almost different in kind form our own.  Admittedly, the great things of the spirit abide, and it remains education’s business to hand on the tradition.  But we cannot now, as in ages of less rapid change, equip our young with a stock of ideas, conventions and sentiments adequate to life’s situations.  Their world is shifting and changing with a rapidity that precludes all such provision for unborn tomorrow. 

More recently, Scotland has looked to others to examine its progress. When the OECD was invited to conduct a review in 2015, it observed:

There is a great deal to be positive about…  learners are enthusiastic and motivated, teachers are engaged and professional, and system leaders are highly committed. There has been intensive activity to create suites of support materials and a drive to address excessive bureaucracy. There have been extensive professional learning events organised throughout Scotland. [The Scottish Curriculum] CfE has been anchored in consensus and a wider set of parallel reforms. These include teacher education, extensive work on qualifications and vocational educational and training, and the establishment of a National Parents Forum and a new Leadership College.

This "systems change" approach has been widely regarded as the key to sustainable development, giving Scotland a great deal to offer to the wider education community. 




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