Scotland

School reforms timescale 'reservations'

School pupils in a lesson

An educational charity has said it has "serious reservations" about the proposed timescale for school reforms.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) warned against repeating "past mistakes" by introducing the measures too quickly.

But it was also supportive of plans by set out by Education Secretary John Swinney to close the attainment gap.

The Scottish government said it would engage with councils, teachers and other partners in implementing changes.

The government proposals include devolving funding and more decision-making to schools and communities, as well as transferring some of the legal responsibility for delivering education which currently rests with local councils to schools.

RSE welcomed the intention behind the proposals but said no reference had been made in the plan to the constraints such as staffing facing head teachers.

'Ambitious change'

In an advice paper, the RSE said "ambitious" changes must take into account the capacity of the school system - and particularly teachers - to respond.

"We have serious reservations about the manageability of the plan within the stated timescales and fears that inadequate time will be devoted to consultation, securing buy-in and giving teachers the opportunity to reflect on the implications of the many actions for their work," the paper said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Swinney has said change is necessary to close the attainment gap

The papers said ministers should learn lessons from the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence.

"An overriding criticism of the implementation of CfE and the national qualifications is that there has been too much guidance material and not enough time for practitioners to reflect upon the key developments to inform their own practice.

"In order to guard against repeating past mistakes, it will be important to ensure that the delivery plan is able to find a balance between unreasonable delay and over-rapid introduction that does not have appropriate resources and preparation."

The paper was published before a meeting of local authority body Cosla's education, children and young people executive group at which the delivery plan is due to be discussed.

Education Secretary John Swinney met a teachers' panel on Wednesday to discuss proposed reforms.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We welcome the RSE's conclusion that our delivery plan will advance the objective of closing the attainment gap.

"We also welcome their positive comments on our emphasis on early years interventions and on our proposals around parental engagement.

"As the RSE report points out, delivery will always be a critical phase, which is why will we continue to engage with councils, teachers and other partners to ensure the plan delivers real change in the classroom."

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