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Scottish Government Education Priorities

Scottish Government Education Priorities

In Parliament today, the First Minister set out his Government's programme for the coming period.  You can read the details relating to the Education portfolio here: Education and Skills: FM letter to Cabinet Secretary - (

The letter sets out objectives for the Education portfolio during 2023/4 and, separately, for the remainder of the current Parliament.  Many of the items listed are a reiteration of already stated policies.

Without comment, here is the extract relating to the coming year:

"...For this financial year we have agreed that you [Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills] will deliver on the following outcomes:

  • You will take forward work to build the system infrastructure for School Age Childcare, including through investing in a range of projects across the country to test and refine approaches.
  • You will begin to build the evidence base and start work to trial and evaluate models to deliver funded childcare for 1 and 2 year olds, focusing on those who need it most.
  • To prepare the way for us to participate in the PIRLS 2026 and TIMSS 2027 studies, we will engage with the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). This will include appointing a National Research Coordinator contractor during the coming year to allow us to participate in PIRLS 2026.
  • You will invest a further £200m to support schools and authorities in their efforts to improve attainment of those children and young people impacted by poverty.
  • You will support our teaching profession by delivering the historic pay deal for our teachers, which represents a cumulative pay uplift of 33% between 2018 and 2024. Education Scotland will continue to provide a range of professional learning programmes and wellbeing resources to support practitioners across the education system.
  • Through our education reform programme, you will design and deliver a national organisational infrastructure for education in Scotland that more effectively support the system as a whole to deliver the vision for education in Scotland. The programme provides an opportunity for the new bodies to collaborate and strengthen support for the teaching profession, supporting a coherent learner journey, within which curriculum and assessment are aligned at all levels.
  • You will develop and publish a response to the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment (the ‘Hayward’ Review), part of the next steps to ensuring we have an equitable, accessible, valid and reliable qualifications system for all. To ensure there are no financial barriers preventing any child or young person accessing the curriculum, we will continue to fund the removal of core curriculum charges. We will also continue to fund activities to improve the quality of the curriculum for all learners.
  • You will continue to implement the actions set out in the ASL Action Plan, supporting children, young people and their families who use additional support for learning so that they have better experiences and outcomes.
  • Working closely with COSLA, you will agree a funding model and mechanism to distribute £13m capital funding to local authorities to invest in their digital provision across the learning estate, which will enhance learning and teaching.
  • Following on from our commitment to expand free school meal provision, you will work with COSLA to prepare schools and infrastructure for the expansion to eligible young people in P6 and P7.
  • You will continue to support public authorities to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights and engage with key stakeholders and children and young people to ensure their views continue to inform our approach to this. A revised UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill will be brought back to the Scottish Parliament later in the year.
  • Last year we published our Promise Implementation Plan for how the Scottish Government will keep the Promise to Scotland’s care experienced children, young people and families. You will continue to progress work across portfolios to help families thrive and stay together where that is safe to do so and to reduce the number of children who have to go into care away from home. This will include developing a forward investment plan for the Whole Family Wellbeing Funding (with the Deputy First Minister leading work to agree a multi-year approach to WFW budgeting), responding to the Mackie Review on Children’s Hearing system redesign and working with COSLA to agree minimum levels for Foster and Kinship allowances.
  • By further developing our Careers Information Advice and Guidance Service, working with employers and with third sector specialist providers, you will ensure all school leavers, regardless of their background, have the support they need to further their education or secure a job or training place.
  • Working with the Strategic Working Group, you will co-develop a statement of intent for Scotland’s first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy, which will set out the scope, vision, aims and national priorities. This will be a crucial part of ensuring that there is a joined up approach to supporting our disabled young people as they make the transition to adult life.
  • In pursuit of the vision and outcomes set out in our published Purpose and Principles for post-school education, skills and research you will appraise and take forward reforms to funding, skills planning and qualifications which will allow us to develop a system that is agile and responsive to the needs of Scotland’s learners and employers, and supports Scotland’s world class college and university sector.
  • Via a short-life working group, you will work with the sector to develop a consistent and robust set of measures which will improve the process of identifying access students. You will continue to work closely with universities and the Scottish Funding Council on how best to support the university sector to achieve the interim target, and will support the newly appointed Commissioner for Fair Access in taking forward any new approaches.
  • Through our on-going funding for research and knowledge exchange, you will continue to provide long-term, sustained investment to support the foundations of Scottish university research.
  • With the Scottish Funding Council, we will work with colleges to enhance their financial flexibility.
  • Following consultation with stakeholders, this year you will publish the national framework, to better support schools in tackling gender based violence and sexual harassment, as part of wider work to ensure schools are safe spaces for all."