School Exam Organisation ‘Scottish Qualifications Authority’ To Be Scrapped

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Organisation (OECD) has backed Scotland’s school curriculum in its independent review.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced that all 12 of the review’s recommendations will be accepted in full, including recommendations on curriculum, assessment and qualifications which will see the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) replaced and Education Scotland substantially reformed.

The Scottish Government will actively consider what changes are required to our qualifications and assessment system. This work will be heavily informed by the next OECD report, expected in the autumn, and by consultation with young people, parents, teachers and the wider education system.

Education Scotland will no longer undertake inspections, with this work becoming a separate, independent role. The Scottish Government will engage widely on the options for the future of inspection.

The OECD also suggests that the curriculum work currently undertaken by Education Scotland might best sit with any new curriculum and assessment body which will replace the SQA.

Publication of the OECD report into Scotland’s curriculum system, known as Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), meets another of the Scottish Government’s commitments for the first 100 days since the First Minister was elected.

Ms Somerville said:

“The last few years have accelerated a debate about the future of Curriculum for Excellence and senior phase education in particular.
“The OECD report is crystal clear – Curriculum for Excellence is the right approach for Scotland.
“In fact, despite all the criticism here at home, the OECD tells us it is viewed internationally as an inspiring example of curriculum practice.
“However, 10 years on from CfE being introduced, it is right and proper that we review how it is being implemented. 
 “We accept in full all 12 recommendations from the OECD.
“We will replace the SQA. We will talk to young people, parents and teachers to build a system that works in line with CfE – exactly as the OECD recommends.
“Responsibility for inspection will no longer sit with Education Scotland and we will look at what further reform of the agency’s functions is required.
“Everyone across the education system, including at the SQA and Education Scotland, has worked tirelessly this year under very challenging circumstances. They are owed a debt of gratitude.
“What comes next is a period of change. But it is change in order to improve, to achieve more and to deliver for Scotland’s pupils. Our commitment is to do exactly that and we will work with everyone and anyone willing to help to make that a reality.”
Fiona Robertson, SQA Chief Executive said, ‘While our focus right now is on supporting our young people to get the qualifications they deserve this year, I welcome the OECD findings and today’s announcement of a new specialist agency with responsibility for both curriculum and assessment. This is an opportunity for significant change that will meet the future needs of our learners, our society and our economy, and which has the support of all.
‘We will make a full and positive contribution to the process that lies ahead, drawing on our experience and expertise as Scotland’s qualifications and accreditation body, and working in partnership with others across the education system. Whatever outcome eventually emerges, it is critical that we all commit to maintaining the high standards that have long been the hallmark of Scotland’s qualifications.
‘In the meantime, we will continue our work to deliver this year’s National Qualifications in exceptional and challenging circumstances. I echo the Cabinet Secretary’s thanks to SQA staff who have worked tirelessly to deliver, with professionalism and integrity.’


The Scottish Government last year commissioned the OECD to carry out a review of CfE. The remit of the review was to help us better understand how the curriculum is being designed and implemented in schools and to identify areas for improvement across the country.


The Education Secretary intends to set out more details on the Scottish Government response to the OECD report in Parliament on Tuesday, 22 June.

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future | en | OECD

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