Ambitious, Excellent Schools

Part of Question Time — Scottish Executive — Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 23rd February 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour 2:15 pm, 23rd February 2006

Iain Smith makes a wide range of points. He is right to draw attention to the fact that the HMIE report that was published this week—which is the most comprehensive report that we have seen of our entire education system—is positive about the ability of the Scottish education system to deliver. It reports clearly the success and strength of the Scottish education system. However, he is also right to say that the report also points out some of the concerns that we ourselves have pointed out. The report confirms the areas that we have identified as requiring attention, and that is where the ambitious, excellent schools agenda comes from.

Part of that is about widening choice and opportunity for young people. We are considering, for example, new vocational courses and skills-for-work courses in our schools. We have changed the age-and-stage regulations to give more freedom of choice to teachers and pupils about what to study, when to study it, what exams to sit and when to sit them. A range of changes are taking place, but we need to do more, as Iain Smith has said, to plan transitions from primary to secondary education. That is one of the reasons why we have changed the rules to allow primary teachers to move into secondary education. That is also why we are in the midst of a major curriculum review that is looking particularly at S1 to S3, in which years we know that too many young people are disengaging. We want to find the excitement and pace in learning that they require to remain engaged.

We are making progress, but we will redouble our efforts in the light of the HMIE report, which confirms that our direction of travel is the right one.