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Willie Rennie: ‘We need some significant change in our educational institutions’

Willie Rennie.
Willie Rennie.

MSPs will vote on a reform of the SQA and the break up of Education Scotland on Wednesday with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie calling for widespread reform of Scotland’s education system.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday morning, Mr Rennie insisted Education Scotland should be split into independent inspections and policy functions, and says now is the right time for the vote to happen, despite the government dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

His comments come as a review into Scotland’s secondary education system by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which should have been published in February, has been pushed back by Education Secretary John Swinney until June.

Mr Swinney cites the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the delay but now the report – which could well be critical of the Scottish Government’s track record on secondary education – will not see the light of day until after May’s Holyrood election.

Education Secretary John Swinney.

Mr Rennie says that, despite the pandemic, it should be published now.

He said: “Yes, it does (need to be published now). They’ve not performed well through the pandemic; when teachers, pupils and parents needed them most, they were absent.

“Teacher were, by and large, left to themselves in order to develop the systems and the programmes that are now in place.”

‘Healthy tension’

Mr Rennie continued to say that there needs to be a “healthy tension” within the education environment in order for it to progress.

He said: “The problem is that they’ve got the inspection and the policy functions together.

Willie Rennie education
Willie Rennie wants to see education in Scotland reformed.

“They used to be separate, we used to have the inspector and we also used to have teaching and learning Scotland.

“That way there was a healthy tension within the education environment. That allowed education to advance in previous years.

“Now they’ve been combined together it’s far too cosy, it’s far too comfortable and it needs to be separated to get back to that healthy environment that advances education in Scotland.”

They are not helping the advancement of Scottish education.”

Willie Rennie

The Scottish Lib Dem leader also says he expects to win the vote this afternoon.

“I think we’ll win the vote this afternoon because people recognise we need to have a big change in the educational institutions in Scotland to make sure that Scottish education can bounce back.

“There is no doubt now that we need some significant change in our educational institutions. They are not helping the advancement of Scottish education.”

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