Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Scottish Executive Education Department



Science Strategy

  1.  In August 2001, the Scottish Executive published a Science Strategy for Scotland. The Strategy identifies key objectives for the Executive which include:

    —  maintaining a strong science base;

    —  increasing the effective exploitation of scientific research;

    —  ensuring that enough people study science to meet the future needs of Scotland;

    —  promote the awareness, appreciation and understanding of science across society;

    —  ensuring the effective use of scientific evidence in policy formulation and resource allocation by government.

  2.  The Strategy supports high levels of achievement by those specialising in science and intends to ensure that all learners acquire the capacity to cope as citizens and decision-makers when dealing with scientific issues. It also encourages the training and employment of additional science teachers and initiatives to ensure high quality updating of their skills.

  3.  The Executive is spending nearly £1 billion on science over the lifetime of the Parliament. In real terms, spending on science by the Executive over the lifetime of this Parliament is rising by 15 per cent. A key objective of the Science Strategy is to consider whether the large sums already being invested in science are being used in the most effective way. Ministers have therefore not made available a particular budget or separate fund for implementing the Science Strategy. The commitments made within the strategy will, however, require refocusing of existing budgets across a broad range of the Executive's responsibilities, if they are to be achieved. For instance, an additional £5 million was announced earlier this year for distribution to schools to be spent on science teaching in accordance with the Strategy.

National Priorities in School Education—Improvement Framework

  4.  National Priorities (outlined in legislation) define the high-level outcomes Education Authorities and their schools are required to deliver for young people. National Priorities are part of an improvement framework which allows:

    —  Scottish Ministers to give strategic direction to the education system by publishing National Priorities for education;

    —  a requirement upon Authorities to publish plans showing improvement objectives for their areas under each of the National Priorities;

    —  a requirement for schools to publish school development plans taking account of improvement objectives set by their local authority; and,

    —  publication of annual reports on progress.

  5.  The present National Priorities are defined as:

    —  achievement and Attainment;

    —  framework for Learning;

    —  inclusion and Equality;

    —  values and Citizenship;

    —  learning for Life.

National Grid for Learning

  6.  The National Grid for Learning (NGFL) is integrating new Information and Communication Technologies into the process of teaching and learning. In September 2000, 97 per cent of secondary schools in Scotland were connected to the Internet. Over £90 million (1999-2002) has been allocated for NGFL infrastructure, content and support. A further £40 million (2002-04) is allocated for a National Priorities Action Fund.

Pay and Conditions for Teachers

  7.  A National Agreement (known as the McCrone Agreement) on pay has been reached between the Scottish Executive and the teachers employers. Its key features are:


    —  a minimum salary increase of 21.5 per cent over three years;

    —  10 per cent salary increase from 1 April 2001;

    —  4 per cent salary increase from 1 April 2002;

    —  3.5 per cent salary increase from 1 January 2003;

    —  4 per cent salary increase from 1 August 2003;

    —  introduction of a 35-hour week.

    Professional Conditions of Service:

    —  treating teachers as professionals by removal of restrictive national prescription on managing work time;

    —  introduction of a 35-hour week for all teachers;

    —  introduction of contractual obligation of additional 35 hours per annum for continuous professional development;

    —  reduced restriction & increased flexibility on duties;

    —  involve teachers in decision-making & school planning.

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