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### Importance of Hayward Momentum for School Leaders

With schools throughout Scotland already on their half-term break, it serves as a stark reminder of how swiftly time is passing.

It has been eight months since Professor Louise Hayward’s group released its recommendations, nine months since professors Carol Campbell and Alma Harris shared their report stemming from the “national discussion,” and nine months since James Withers published his review of the skills landscape. Additionally, we are nearing the two-year mark since Professor Ken Muir’s report was issued.

These reports encompass a multitude of suggestions and paint a complex picture that necessitates swift action.

Strong Desire for Change

The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic undeniably fueled a strong desire for reform. While the fervor may have slightly waned, the fundamental necessity for change persists.

As highlighted by education secretary Jenny Gilruth, a system where many young individuals [ppp1] is ripe for transformation.

This eagerness has now transformed into palpable frustration due to the perceived lack of visible progress on reform. Despite ongoing reforms within the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Education Scotland, and the inspectorate, concerns linger among members of School Leaders Scotland (SLS) regarding the potential missed opportunity to propel Scottish education forward and bolster its esteemed international standing.

SLS has consistently championed the extensive array of reform proposals outlined in the aforementioned reports, with its members actively contributing to shaping and enhancing these recommendations.

In recent weeks, member consultations were conducted on the reform process, particularly focusing on the Hayward proposals. Members were tasked with assigning RAG (red/amber/green) scores to all recommendations, with the results promptly relayed to the education secretary and Scottish government officials spearheading the reform initiative.

A prevailing sentiment among SLS members emerged, emphasizing the imperative to revamp qualifications and assessment in the senior phase of Scottish secondary education, stressing the need for meticulous planning and adequate resources to support this transition.

Endorsement for New Diploma Framework

Furthermore, members expressed eagerness to promptly proceed with recommendations pertaining to the [ppp2]. There was resounding support for fully embracing the SDA as the new standard for qualifications and assessment.

The proposal to establish a comprehensive national strategy to actualize the SDA for all learners across educational settings was met with enthusiasm, albeit with a call for transparent resource implications. Addressing budgetary considerations, as previously underscored, is pivotal to ensuring the effective and enduring implementation of these proposals.

Members also advocated for a phased introduction of the SDA, allowing time for professional development, collaboration, and adjustment to the proposed changes—a critical aspect of any substantial transformation.

Streamlining Examination Processes

The consensus among members favored a diverse array of academic, vocational, professional, and technical courses in Scotland, coupled with a reduction in the [ppp3] and a shift towards internal assessment up to National 5 level or equivalent.

While external exams may be retained where appropriate, there was a collective push for more emphasis on learning and teaching. Additionally, there was a strong inclination towards [ppp4], recognizing qualifications with the same SCQF level and credit points as equal.

SLS members also voiced support for Professor Hayward’s suggestion to establish a cross-sector commission on AI promptly, acknowledging the rapid evolution in this domain.

Reforms in SQA and Education Scotland

Feedback from SLS members underscores the urgent need for the government to articulate a coherent narrative demonstrating how qualifications and assessment reforms align closely with the broader reform agenda.

There is a keenness to progress with the overhaul of Education Scotland and a firm commitment to collaboratively shaping the new national qualifications body, emphasizing the importance of fostering trust with educators and adopting a more [ppp5] approach than previously witnessed with the SQA.

Overall, SLS members advocate for immediate action on more than half of Professor Hayward’s recommendations, viewing another seven as medium-term priorities and four as long-term objectives.

While there was no outright dismissal of any of the Hayward group’s proposals, there exists a resolute determination for the reform agenda to advance swiftly.

The momentum for education reform in Scotland must be sustained, as the current status quo fails to cater to all students—prompting an urgent need for an assessment system that [ppp6].

Graham Hutton serves as the general secretary of School Leaders Scotland

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