OECD education report will fail pupils if it leaves SQA intact

cottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today warned that the forthcoming OECD report into Scottish education will have failed Scottish pupils if it leaves in place the SQA and Education Scotland after their poor handling of Scottish education. 

The long-gestating report is due to be published alongside a ministerial statement on Monday 21st January.  

Speaking ahead of the publication, Mr Rennie said: 

"The OECD report will need to recommend radical reform of Scotland's education system if it is to repair years of neglect under the SNP. 

"That needs to start with reforming the SQA and Education Scotland. We have had two successive exam scandals and fifteen years of failure. It's time to turn the page and put teachers back in charge. 

"Successive SNP education secretaries have produced reports and consultations but little progress. This independent report must be the impetus for real change. It will be a failed exercise if it leaves these organisations intact." 

On the SNP refusing to publish the report until after the election and allowing months of editing time for minister and education quangos, he added: 

"John Swinney told parliament he would be happy to discuss the possibility of an interim report with the OECD. Instead he did nothing, despite knowing that drafts were already going back and forth between ministers and the report’s authors. 

“Given that ministers had months to provide comments on the draft report before teachers and pupils were allowed to look at it, there is already a risk that this report is tarnished. 

“Scottish education will be badly served if the report that is finally delivered on Monday has SNP ministers' fingerprints all over it.” 


Notes to editors 

Emails and documents secured from the Scottish Government by Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information revealed: 

  • In a timetable sent to the Deputy First Minister on 3 November, the Scottish Government was scheduled to receive the first draft of the report from the OECD on 20 January. 
  • A group which includes the Scottish Government and Directors of Education considered the first draft of the report in a 2-hour meeting today [Monday 15 February] to "provide comments". 
  • The OECD was scheduled to deliver "a complete draft report" to SNP ministers on 3 March, before ministers again "provide comments" on that final draft on 15 March. 
  • In April 2020, the Scottish Government considered the option of a process that would allow "a public debate" in "New Year 2021". However, this was not taken forward. 
  • Under questioning from Scottish Liberal Democrats, John Swinney told the Education Committee on 16 September that he would be "happy to discuss" with the OECD whether they could produce an interim report before the election. The documents reveal that John Swinney never contacted the OECD about this and that there have been "no direct discussions" about an interim report.

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