In November 2011, the think tanks Reform Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy set up the Commission on School Reform to consider whether the school system in Scotland is meeting the present and future needs of young people and to make specific recommendations as to how things might be improved or areas that require further enquiry.
Keir Bloomer, a former Executive Director of Education, was asked to chair the commission which included a broad range of individuals including teachers, politicians, parents as well as individuals from higher and further education and business. This report represents their collective view about the problems facing our schools system and identifies specifically Scottish ways in which we might solve them.
It argues that the underlying problem with our system of schooling is that it is too uniform and lacks the diversity required to excel. This lack of diversity has led to a very consistent level of education across the board, but not to an exceptional level and that a lack of diversity has almost certainly levelled-down the overall achievement
In order to reverse our decline and become world-beating once again, the report argues that we need to promote variety and diversity by increasing the autonomy of individual schools and loosening the grip of central authorities. Decisions which can competently be taken at a school level should be taken at a school level without higher interference - that way we can harness all the creativity that exists in Scotland's schools and embed a culture of excellence in our system from the ground up.
The report argues that this approach will raise the performance of schools, and crucially will ensure that pupils in schools in the most disadvantaged areas will have an opportunity to experience personal and social development that is all too difficult to achieve in the current system.
We believe that this report can act as a guide for the constant evolutionary change which modern world-class schooling requires. It should not be seen as the final word, but as the start of a process which could return Scotland to its proper position as an international leader.