The government agency, Education Scotland, faces a conflict of interest. It inspects and evaluates policies and practices it has itself largely developed. Currently, schools have to enthusiastically embrace the latest Education Scotland diktat and proclaim its wisdom and effectiveness, on pain of a bad inspection report. Education Scotland then interprets this as affirmation of its policies and practices. This has to be remedied. The policy development aspect should be minimised, as the people who know best about what will work in a certain school are the leaders, staff and parents of that school. Expensive centrally imposed programmes, laden with the latest jargon and driven by the latest educational fashion, illustrated lavishly with photographs of smiling children, seldom bear fruit.
Inspections should be carried out by teams of teachers and parents, led by a professional inspector. Their role should be to assess the effectiveness of the school, not its adherence to the current fads favoured by Education Scotland. They could also provide unbiased feedback to Education Scotland on the efficacy of their directives to schools. Teachers and school leaders should feel confident to aim for excellence, instead of placating ideologues.
The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) places unnecessary obstacles in the path of teachers wanting to teach in Scotland, administers an unnecessarily bureaucratic Professional Update scheme that lowers the threshold for de-registering teachers, and publishes a magazine that is more government propaganda than professional journal. All while increasing its annual charge. GTCS should be wound up, and its critical functions, such as teachers’ registration, dealt with by the Education Department directly.