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Staff confidence falls at inspection and curriculum body

Chief inspector admits there is ‘room for improvement’ but insists that Education Scotland is going in right direction

Staff confidence has fallen at Education Scotland, the inspection and curriculum body, research shows

Staff confidence is significantly lower at Education Scotland, the national body for inspection and curriculum development, than it was in 2014, according to research.

Official figures show that the proportion of employees reporting confidence in Education Scotland’s leadership dropped from 41 per cent four years ago to 28 per cent in 2018. However, this proportion did improve between 2017 and 2018.

The Civil Service People Survey, which examines “civil servants' attitudes to and experience of working in government departments” across the UK, shows the changing level of confidence within Education Scotland.

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The research shows that the agency’s performance worsened across eight out of the nine indicators relating to work satisfaction in comparison with 2014, despite recent rises recorded in the latest figures.

The percentage of staff reporting that they had a clear understanding of Education Scotland’s purpose and objectives fell by almost one-fifth between 2014 and 2018.

In last year's survey, some 28 per cent of employees said they would recommend it as a great place to work, compared with 47 per cent in 2014.

'Period of change' at Education Scotland

Gayle Gorman, chief executive of Education Scotland, said the lead-up to the 2018 survey had involved a “period of significant change for staff”.

She said: “However, it is important to note that results from the 2018 People Survey showed a number of areas that had improved from the previous year, including our ‘engagement index’ score – a measure of employee pride, motivation, attachment and commitment to the organisation – which was 48 per cent positive, an increase of 3 per cent on 2017.

“In addition, results for ‘my work’ and ‘my team’ showed our most positive responses with an increase of 3 per cent from last year for both areas. Positive increases were also seen in staff responses to questions around inclusion and fair treatment (up 3 per cent), leadership and change management (up 9 per cent) and learning and development (up 6 per cent).”

Ms Gorman added: “Although the survey showed we were performing better in overall terms, I acknowledge that there is still room for improvement.

“That is why we undertook a major consultation with staff and unions over the past year and have now introduced a new structure. We have a new leadership team in place that I have full confidence in. And we have recently held a significant recruitment exercise to ensure we have the right people in the right places across the organisation.

“Our leadership team is committed to ensuring that the issues highlighted in the survey remain at the forefront of our plans.”

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “These results are a blow for education secretary John Swinney, who was supposed to deliver on [first minister] Nicola Sturgeon’s supposed top priority [of education].

“Instead, he has failed to come close to reversing years of SNP cuts to school budgets and teacher numbers, and has spent the past two-and-a-half years picking needless fights with teachers on everything from pay to educational reforms to standardised testing.

“John Swinney was supposed to be a steady hand in the education brief. Instead he has repeatedly dropped the ball and it is now clear confidence at Education Scotland is dropping as well.”

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