In light of the challenges facing Scottish education, as highlighted in recent national (Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy) and international (PISA) reports, there is a significant public benefit to diversifying the provision of school education in Scotland. Currently, all but one of the 365 state-funded secondary schools in Scotland are run by local authorities. There is therefore a dearth of innovation and imagination in how to meet the challenges of inequity and falling standards. Sharing ‘good practice’ across a system that is so uniform has had virtually no impact on narrowing the poverty-related attainment gaps and measurable declines in literacy and numeracy standards particularly in the secondary sector. This is in spite of major changes to virtually every aspect of Scottish school education having been tried in the last 40 years – assessment (several times), national examinations (several times), curriculum (several times) and terms and conditions of teachers. The only aspect of Scottish school education that has not changed is school governance. While this is an area currently being considered by the Scottish Government under the Governance Review, we believe that the suggested changes do not go far enough to be meaningful.
Some of the problems relating to the Scottish Education system are highlighted in Frank Lennon’s TED talk.
Innovation and diversity
SET wants to encourage greater innovation and diversity into the education system. The approach will be to encourage this by moving towards a school-led system, by providing school leaders – the leaders of learning – with the professional self-confidence, support and freedom they need to rise to the challenges of inequity and underperformance by initiating and rolling out long overdue improvements. Through the direct development and delivery of new low-cost independent private schools, the Trust will provide exemplars for other schools to follow, whilst reducing the burden on the public purse.
SET also aims to make a major independent and objective contribution to the ongoing debate about school improvement in Scotland and specifically to consider what practical reforms might be introduced in a measured, targeted and independently verifiable way so that lessons learned – particularly in relation to closing attainment gaps – might be shared across the system. This will include the provision of detailed advice and support to any school or schools seeking to contribute to greater diversity and innovation in Scottish school education, without having to first seek the permission of local authority personnel, as a means of achieving improved standards and much greater equity in outcomes.
SET will collaborate with any individual, teacher or interested group who want to improve the quality of education in Scotland.
SET is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). As with all charities, high levels of transparency require to be met and there is welcome reporting to OSCR (the Scottish Charity Regulator) on an annual basis.