New legislation creating statutory duty to narrow educational ‘attainment’ gap launched

angelaconstanceEfforts to boost educational outcomes are to be bolstered in law through the Education (Scotland) Bill.

Details of the bill were unveiled by education secretary Angela Constance (pictured) during a visit to St Mary’s RC Primary School in Leith.

The new legislation will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the “attainment” gap and require councils and Scottish ministers to report on progress.

The bill will also contains provisions to:

  • enhance children’s rights by extending the rights of children aged 12+ with capacity under the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004
  • promote Gaelic education by placing a duty on councils both to assess the need for Gaelic medium primary education following a parental request and to actively promote and support Gaelic learning and teaching in schools
  • ensure that all teachers in Scottish schools are appropriately trained and qualified by requiring all teaching staff within independent and grant aided schools to be registered with the General Teaching Council Scotland
  • improve the process, under section 70 of the 1980 Education Act, for dealing with complaints about councils and schools failing in their education duties, and
  • ensure senior managers within councils have the necessary qualifications and experience by providing for the creation of a chief education officer post.
  • The bill will support the government’s existing work to raise educational standards and to raise attainment for all Scottish children.

    The bill’s introduction coincides with the announcement of an additional £1 million for councils to purchase textbooks and other resources to support the delivery of “curriculum for excellence”.

    The money will enable councils to support schools as they move into the final phase of the introduction of the new qualifications, including help with the purchase of textbooks for the new Highers. Schools and councils can begin to spend this money immediately if they choose to do so.

    Ms Constance said: “Our bill underlines our expectations of local councils in the process of addressing educational inequality.

    “Specifically the bill will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the attainment gap and introduce a new requirement for councils and ministers to report on progress in achieving that. I look forward to the parliamentary process where we can seek consensus on these provisions and the other measures that are being introduced in the bill.”

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