Education (Diversity)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 June 2013.

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Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government how it will promote a more diverse school education system. (S4O-02299)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

There are considerable freedoms already available to schools in Scotland to govern in a way that best suits local needs and parental wishes. Curriculum for excellence emphasises the autonomy of teachers and other education professionals in providing effective—and often innovative—learning and teaching, and Education Scotland encourages innovation through the new framework for inspection.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

In the past few weeks, we have had an expression of interest from a group of parents in Edinburgh who wish to create a new state school in the capital, and similar contributions and ambitions from various church groups. What encouragement will the cabinet secretary give those groups?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

We have a clear structure that exists in Scotland through local authority delivery, but it is not monolithic. There are opportunities for others to establish schools if they wish to do so.

The important thing is that all schools in Scotland should meet a very clear standard of education, and we will insist on that national standard when any new schools arise. I would encourage parents, if they wish to found or create a school, to enter into creative dialogue with their local authority, to ensure that they have the opportunity to deliver and to consider which part of the sector their school would best fit into.

I do not believe that we should balkanise the education system. We should judge it in one very clear way: whatever structures exist must prove to be of benefit to the educational attainment of children. As long as that can be proved, I am very relaxed about the innovation that takes place. Indeed, I would encourage innovation, as long as it is driven by that principle and is seen to be part of the national state system.