Scotland’s education system is to be radically overhauled with the creation of two new national agencies and an ‘independent inspectorate’.

Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority are set to be scrapped and replaced by three new bodies, according to plans unveiled this week by ministers.

It follows a report from Professor Ken Muir, education expert and independent advisor to the Scottish Government, who made several recommendations for reform.

Exams and qualifications agency SQA will be replaced by a new public body which will be responsible for developing and awarding qualifications. It will also have a governance structure that is “more representative of” and “accountable to” learners, teachers and practitioners.

Meanwhile, a national agency for education will take the place of Education Scotland, providing “improved support and professional learning” to teachers and schools, as well as advice and guidance on curriculum, assessment, learning and teaching. 

Finally, an independent inspectorate body will be created to develop new inspection models and help to assess the overall performance of Scottish education – currently a key responsibility of Education Scotland.

The organisations will be required to work more closely with learners and education professionals.

The SQA and Education Scotland will continue to deliver their functions while the new bodies are being developed to ensure “continuity for learners, including those sitting exams”.

The Scottish Government has accepted all of Professor Muir’s recommendations, including making a commitment to lead a national discussion on the vision for the future of education.

Professor Muir said: “As our students and society change over time, so too do our expectations of what we want and need from our education system. It is important that Scottish education reflects and responds to those changes in ways that offer opportunities for all current and future learners to thrive.

“The recommendations in my report are designed to ensure that the needs of every individual learner lie at the heart of all decisions taken and all that we do. They are designed to ensure that the voices of learners, teachers and practitioners have greater prominence and influence in decision making and that teachers and practitioners receive the support they need in carrying out their challenging and critically important teaching role.” 

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The three new education bodies will be underpinned by new values and governance. I have also announced my intention to work in partnership to build a new vision for Scottish education.

“These changes are designed to improve outcomes and build trust in Scotland’s education system. Our renewed system must reflect the culture and values we want to see embedded throughout; it must be a system that puts learners at the centre and provides excellent support for our teachers and practitioners.

“It must also be a system where there is clear accountability – democratic accountability, organisational accountability but also accountability to the learners, who have a right to expect the highest quality of learning and teaching while giving them the best chance of success.”