In March 2002 Cathy Jamieson, Scottish Minister
for Education and Young people launched a National Debate on Education.
The Scottish Executive, together with the Education,
Culture and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament have formed
a partnership to initiate a debate to encourage the wider public
to make their views on education known to the Executive.
In addition, the Committee will produce papers on
key issues and take oral evidence directly.
As part of its deliberations, The Committee has
inaugurated an Inquiry into the Purpose of Scottish Education,
which is taking the form of a bulletin board discussion on the
internet, as well as allowing for written submissions.
The National Debate will run until the end of June
and be followed by a planning phase later this year which will
provide an opportunity for interested parties to consider and
comment on the views submitted in the debate.
It is hoped to publish the "vision and strategy
for the future" early in 2003.
THE NATIONAL DEBATE
The Executive has not come out with a consultation
paper, but wishes interested parties to come together to debate
issues involved, and to feed back the views expressed.
They have suggested the following topics as "starters"
to assist with the debate:
- Why? Why we educate children and young people.
- What? What children learn and what takes place
- How? How learning and teaching are delivered
- Who? Who can help children and young people to
- When? When learning takes place
- Where? Where education happens
INQUIRY: THE PURPOSE OF SCOTTISH EDUCATION
The Committee's enquiry is a more in-depth debate
about key issues about what education is for and its key question
is: "Is there a need in a rapidly changing world for radical
change in the education system?"
The six themes it identifies are:
Coping with change and uncertainty
Engaging in Ideas
Keeping everyone involved in learning
Promoting a sense of identity
Developing necessary skills
Fitting structure to purpose
UNISON INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION
UNISON has many members working in Education in
Scotland. They include:
- Nursery Nurses
- Classroom Assistants
- Admin & Clerical Staff
- School Librarians
- Careers Staff
- School Meals Staff
- Special Needs Staff
- School auxiliaries
- Education psychologists
- Care Staff in Special Schools
- Community Education Staff
The Debate offers UNISON the opportunity to raise
the profile of these workers, and to emphasise to the Executive
that there is a whole Education Team in schools in addition to
Current campaigns that UNISON is involved with include
the Nursery Nurse Pay and Grading campaign; PFI in Schools; the
School Meals campaign and the debate also allows us to raise the
The delivery of learning via the school
The educational team, its composition and
Planning and funding educational establishments
The relationship between school education
and out of school (i.e. workplace, college,) education.
Early years education;
Careers issues and the relationship between
school and work
Equality of opportunity is a fundamental principle
for UNISON and we need to emphasise this as part of our contribution
to the Debate. Multiculturalism is referred to in the Inquiry
documents, but our opposition to racism in the education system
will need to be stressed.
WHAT SHOULD UNISON SCOTLAND BE DOING?
The Scottish Local Government Service Group will
be involved in organising discussion groups based on groups of
members in education over the next month.
The views from these groups will be pulled together
by the Education, Culture and Sport Policy Pool. A response will
then be drawn up and submitted to the Scottish Executive and the
Education, Culture & Sport Committee on behalf of UNISON.
WHAT SHOULD BRANCHES DO?
To be involved in the National Debate, branches
- Order Briefing Packs
- Organise Discussion Groups
- Advise Unison who can arrange a facilitator if required
- Send back completed Feedback forms to UNISON for incorporation
into the final response
Further information and copies of the Briefing Pack
can be found on:
The full Discussion Paper for the Inquiry into
the Purposes of Scottish Education can be found on the following