I am pleased to confirm the remit and purpose of the new agency.
Core Purpose and Strategic Priorities
The new agency is to be established as a key national body supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education by:
leading and supporting the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence;
increasing the capacity for self-evaluation and self-improvement amongst education providers and practitioners;
promoting high quality professional learning and leadership;
identifying and stimulating innovation, sharing successful approaches widely with others;
providing independent external evaluations of the quality of educational provision at individual provider, local authority and partners, and national levels, and
supporting the development and implementation of policy at National Level.
Values and Operating Principles
The new agency will work in partnership alongside the full range of bodies and organisations active in the field of Scottish education, from local authorities to further and higher education, third sector and parent groups, according to their own statutory and other duties and capabilities. It will:
focus on delivering value and enhanced capacity to front-line providers and practitioners.
promote and support a climate of ambition that maximises effective local developments and implementation.
be capable of providing consistent, flexible and proportionate support, based on the presumption that the majority of educational establishments are well run organisations, not in need of major intervention;
have the capacity to intervene strongly wherever there is evidence that education providers are not ensuring satisfactory quality and standards through their own action;
be characterised by an ethos of trust, partnership openness, excellence, and accountability, and
be driven by end-user accountability, and committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of its own services.
The agency will inherit the full range of functions currently being undertaken by Her Majesty''s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) and Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS);
It will assume responsibility from the Scottish Government Learning Directorate for aspects of activity supporting Continuing Professional Development at national level;
Ministers, on the advice of Scottish Government policy departments, will continue to set policy and strategy for the public sector and the education system at a national level, including the broad framework of policy for scrutiny and inspection in each sector;
The agency will take over responsibility for the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board and Excellence Groups from October 2011, or when all major policy decisions have been agreed;
The agency will collate and analyse intelligence and data from all its support and improvement activities in Scotland, and knowledge of effective international practice. Other evidence and analysis functions will sit as currently with the Scottish Government;
On the formation of the agency on 1 July, there will be a seamless continuity in the operation of the various programmes run by these entities;
The continuous improvement of these programmes will be driven over time by the senior team and staff of the agency to best meet the strategic priorities set out above, and
Future changes in the agency''s activity and the timeframe for its implementation will be determined in concert with key delivery partners as appropriate.
In order to most fulfil effectively its remit, the new agency will aim to be:
flexible, non-hierarchical, with open lines of communication throughout the organisation, and people coming together to work on specific projects according to their skills, interests and abilities;
expert in relationship management and the facilitation of highly effective collaborative partnership working, within and beyond the education sector, Scotland-wide and internationally, and
evidence-based, and capable of rapid, flexible response, but not rule bound and heavily bureaucratic.
The key benefits to accrue from the establishment of the agency are:
a single point of contact for the range of support services currently offered;
improved flows of information, knowledge and skills between review activity and support activity that builds on existing local arrangements;
closer integration of the provision of support services among the organisations being brought together;
more proportionate, streamlined and flexible use of resources, to deliver against an over-arching strategy;
extension of the principle of earned autonomy and trust, enabling establishments to determine - with their natural partners - their own strengths/opportunities/development areas where they have demonstrated their ability to manage their development effectively, and
the opportunity to make full use of the experience and skills of staff coming into the organisation.