Let’s Talk Scottish Education: Our National Discussion
November 1, 2022 by Professor Carol Campbell and Professor Alma Harris No Comments | Category Children & young people, Education, Guest blog
We are honoured to be independent facilitators of the National Discussion. The National Discussion is aimed at developing a collective vision for the future of Scottish education informed by the views of people across Scotland. We agreed to take on these facilitation roles because we believe deeply in the Scottish education system and value the way it supports children and young people to succeed in life and to contribute to the world.
We recognise and appreciate the dedication and commitment of all those working in Scottish education, at all stages and levels, in providing high-quality learning and development experiences for children and young people. We strongly agree with the need to listen to the voices and advice of those currently involved in education to inform the direction of, and decisions for, the future of Scottish education. This includes children, young people, early years and education practitioners, and parents and carers.
We believe, therefore, that this National Discussion has tremendous potential, and we take our responsibilities as facilitators very seriously. In this blog, we address why there is a National Discussion and why now? We also outline how we will approach our role as independent facilitators.
Why a National Discussion and why now?
Education for all children and young people in Scotland has never been so important as we look towards the future. Serious issues abound globally that impact locally, and responses will depend heavily on the ingenuity, integrity, and innovation of current and future generations. As agreed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 29, children have a right to education which develops their personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential. It should equip them to respect the rights of all people, to appreciate diversity, to live peacefully, and to care for the environment.
Building on the changes in our world and the central importance of children’s rights, the recent Muir review recommended putting learners at the centre of the education system and highlighted the need for a new vision to lead the way forward for Scottish education. Consequently, a National Discussion about the future of education, right now, is not only timely but also vitally important. If solutions to the upcoming global and local challenges are to be found and children’s rights in this world are to be respected, we need to talk about education. We need to listen to children and young people, who will ultimately be responsible for shaping the future in Scotland and further afield.
We recognise that there have been many previous reviews of Scottish education and other consultations are currently underway. We acknowledge and appreciate the foundational work that preceded, and has informed, this National Discussion. Our purpose, however, is distinctive – we are offering those directly involved in education at all levels a collective chance to pause, to reflect and to contribute to a future vision for Scottish education developed together.
There is no doubt that everyone working in and supporting education in Scotland is committed to the success of every child or young person. Building on the considerable strengths in Scotland’s education system, it is time to consider a vision for what is next. A future vision for Scottish education will need to be collectively developed, creative, clear, and congruent with tackling the challenges facing children and young people, thus enabling them to be successful. As facilitators, we will raise a simple but profound question:
What kind of education system will be needed by children and young people in Scotland in the future and how do we make that a reality?
In many ways, this National Discussion provides the opportunity for ongoing dialogue with those within the Scottish education system on issues or aspects that are important to learners. The National Discussion sets the bar high in terms of its intentions and aspirations. It places significant trust in the children, young people, professionals, and organisations that make up the Scottish education. It underlines a core belief in the system to shape and collectively own the vision for Scottish education in the future.
How we will approach our role as independent facilitators?
This National Discussion places children and young people at the heart of the conversation. As facilitators, we will connect with key individuals to understand the best ways to connect with young people as the central part of this discussion. We will deliberately reach out and engage with young people and adults who are less frequently heard in official consultations. We want to offer new opportunities for broad engagement and will listen to a wide range of voices across Scotland.
There will be an intentional design to ensure the inclusivity and the diversity of learners and communities involved. As facilitators, we are committed to demonstrating and actively modelling that the discussion is authentically engaging learners and their parents and carers, and a range of front-line early years and education practitioners. Only by hearing diverse, and different viewpoints, will creating the content and direction of a clear, shared vision for Scottish education in the future be possible.
We enter this National Discussion with open minds and an intention to genuinely listen, learn and represent a full range of views. A vision for Scottish education in the future that meets the needs of all Scottish learners is the main purpose. We will provide a public call for people to engage as fully as possible, so we can all talk about education.
We have called this Our National Discussion because it belongs to, and will be constructed by, the people of Scotland. We see the outcome from this National Discussion as a Call to Action with agreed priorities for the future of Scottish education. A Call to Action that engages learners and meets their needs through the work of all in, and connected to, the early years and education systems. A Call to Action that provides the stimulus and momentum for action to taken and the vision for Scottish education in the future to be fully realised.
Without question, this is a bold, ambitious but exciting route that Scotland is about to take. Getting this right will require the active engagement and advice of those engaged in Scottish education to ensure that any decisions or actions are informed by this collective advice. This National Discussion will shape the future of Scottish education and provide an example, to the world, of how to put learners, and the people who support them, authentically at the heart of educational decisions and actions.
To conclude, this National Discussion has enormous potential to reshape education in ways that safeguards, nurtures and equips all learners in Scotland to achieve their full potential and to be the very best that they can be. There is no better educational goal or stronger moral imperative.
Get involved in the National Discussion
The National Discussion closes on 5 December 2022.
You may be interested in our other participation blogs on the topic of children and young people.