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National Education Debate briefing 38

June 2002


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 Executive has not come out with a consultation paper, but wishes interested parties to come together to debate the

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 in schools
  • How? How learning and teaching are delivered
  • Who? Who can help children and young people to learn
  • When? When learning takes place
  • Where? Where education happens


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 has many members working in Education in Scotland. They include:

  • Nursery Nurses
  • Classroom Assistants
  • Janitors
  • Admin & Clerical Staff
  • School Librarians
  • Careers Staff
  • Technicians
  • School Meals Staff
  • Cleaners
  • 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 teachers.

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 following themes:

  • The delivery of learning via the school education process;
  • The educational team, its composition and co-operation;
  • Planning and funding educational establishments and staffing
  • 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.


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.


To be involved in the National Debate, branches should

  • 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 site:

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