World experts assemble to oversee Scotland’s reforms

15th July 2016 at 00:00
Panel of teachers appointed to advise government alongside a crack team of international specialists

TEN world-leading experts have been appointed by the government to “challenge and scrutinise” its plans for education.

The government took the decision to appoint an International Council of Education Advisors at the first meeting of the new Scottish cabinet in May.

The council members have extensive experience advising educators and governments on education leadership, school improvement and reform in countries including the US, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK (see box, opposite).

The group’s remit is to give advice on the Scottish government’s priorities for education and ensure that the actions set out in the education delivery plan, unveiled last month, are influenced by international best practice.

John Swinney (pictured), the deputy first minister and education secretary, is also in the process of appointing a panel of teachers whose experience will help to shape the programme to reduce teacher workload and monitor its impact.

Among the teacher panel’s first tasks will be to consider ideas that the government has invited from teaching unions to improve teacher workloads.

‘Global perspective’

Both panels will meet twice a year, with the first meetings taking place next month. Teacher panel members have been nominated by Education Scotland and the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

Ultimately, it is expected that the teacher panel will have around 20 members, drawn from 14 local authorities. The Scottish government expects that the international panel will consist of 10 members.

Mr Swinney said: “I have set out the actions that the government will take to substantially close the attainment gap and deliver a world-class education system in Scotland.

“This work will be informed and shaped by leaders in the profession and by lessons learned elsewhere. The International Council of Education Advisors will bring a global perspective from a group of highly qualified educators with expertise in shaping and delivering education reforms around the world. The teacher panel will ensure that our plans are informed by the views of practitioners who work in our schools every day.

“Both panels will challenge and scrutinise our plans for education and ensure we consider the best evidence and expertise from our classrooms and around the world. I look forward to meeting both panels next month.”

One member of the International Council of Education Advisors, Andy Hargreaves, told TESS that he hoped the body could help Scotland to take “a deserved place” among the global leaders in education such as Singapore, Canada and Finland.

Professor Hargreaves, who is based at Boston College in the US, and who was a member of the four-strong team that carried out the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) review of Curriculum for Excellence last year, said: “Scotland is rightly proud of its educational achievements, insistent about improvement and open to how it can best move forward. The appointment of this distinguished group of advisers is testament to its willingness to learn from global experts who have rich experience in working with policymakers elsewhere.”


Scotland’s International Council of Education Advisors

Dr Carol Campbell, associate professor of leadership and educational change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. Originally from Scotland, she is passionate about the use of research and evidence to inform and contribute to educational change.

Professor Chris Chapman, chair in educational policy and practice at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change, University of Glasgow, and senior academic adviser to the Scottish Attainment Challenge. He is interested in improving educational outcomes in schools in challenging circumstances.

Professor Graham Donaldson is also based at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow. He is Scotland’s former chief inspector of education and author of the Donaldson report into Scottish teacher education, which has led to major changes, including the overhaul of initial teacher education courses and the creation of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

Dr Avis Glaze, former education commissioner and senior adviser to the minister for education, Ontario, Canada. She won the hearts of Scottish teachers when she revealed on a visit that Ontario was free from inspectors, respected its professionals and did not believe in “the big stick”. “The true measure of equity is how students succeed in school,” she says.

Professor Andy Hargreaves is Thomas More Brennan chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, US, and a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) team that recently reviewed Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence. He was born and raised in England and advocates measuring what you value, not what is easily measured. In 2015, he was ranked the sixth most influential university-based scholar on US education policy.

Professor Alma Harris, director of educational leadership at the University of Malaya, Malaysia. An expert in distributed leadership and improving schools in difficult circumstances, she is currently leading a major research project focusing on seven different education systems (Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Russia, Indonesia and England).

Dr Pak Tee Ng, associate dean, leadership learning, and head of the policy and leadership studies academic group at Singapore’s National Institute of Education. He is an expert in educational leadership and quality assurance in education, and he argues “teach less learn more” and that “more teaching – more of the same teaching – is not exactly the way to inspire more learning”.

Dr Pasi Sahlberg is a former director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation at Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, and a visiting professor of practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in the US. He has worked with governments and educators around the world to improve education systems and implement reform but warns that Finland’s wacky, inventive spirit makes it impossible to copy.

Dr Allison Skerrett is associate professor in language and literacy studies at the University of Texas in the US. She is a literacy expert with a particular interest in exploring how teachers can use their pupils’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds and their lives outside of school to promote academic development.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money. She is based in Edinburgh and recently called for executives at banks and other financial companies to have their pay tied to the number of women appointed to senior roles to improve gender diversity.

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