It is the defining mission of this Government to deliver excellence and equity across Scottish education.
I have been tasked by the First Minister to ensure that every child in Scotland – no matter where they are from or how well off their family is – has the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed.
In the 118 days since I became Education Secretary I have made it a firm priority to get out into Scotland’s schools to hear directly from our teachers and practitioners about what it’s like to teach in Scotland’s classroom.
I have been deeply impressed by the excellent work I have seen. But I have also heard about the barriers and challenges getting in the way of delivering great education.
In response to the issues raised, I have moved decisively to free teachers up to teach by removing unnecessary bureaucracy and workload.
I have provided a definitive statement of priorities for Scotland’s schools, setting out clearly and concisely what teachers should and shouldn’t be focusing on.
These actions will empower teachers to spend their time teaching and giving our children the best possible opportunities to learn.
The next step is to ask ourselves how school education should be run?
Today I set out this Government’s vision for the most critically important part of our early years and school education system – our teachers, practitioners and their relationship with our children.
The presumption at the heart of the governance review I launched today, is that decisions about our children’s learning should be taken as close to our children as possible – at school level.
Our teachers and early years workers have the expertise and are best placed, to make decisions about children’s learning and school life – supported by parents and the local community.
In my statement to Parliament today I also made clear that this Government will never go down the divisive academy model, and we will not have selection or Grammar Schools in Scotland.
Evidence shows collaboration at every level of education builds capacity and delivers the best outcomes for children and young people. So by working together we can achieve more.
Some of our schools are already working collaboratively through the development of school clusters. Through the governance review I want to hear how this type of collaboration and others can be encouraged.
Of course, some of the support our schools need is best delivered at a local or a regional level. Many of these services are currently delivered by local authorities, and local authorities will continue to exercise democratic control over Scottish education at a local level.
But we must question the support provided at every level of our education system to ensure it delivers what our teachers, and our children, need.
We need a system of school governance which is clear to parents, teachers, communities and everyone. The governance review is our opportunity to make this a reality.
I plan to spend a significant amount of time over the next three months talking and listening to teachers, children and young people and those with a stake in Scottish education, about how our education system is run.
I want to hear views from across every part of Scotland – from children and young people, from parents, teachers, practitioners and the wider community.
I encourage you to attend one of our engagement events or submit your views in writing or through our social media channels. Details of how you can engage with the review are available at www.gov.scot/educationgovernancereview
We are ready to take the next steps in making Scotland’s school education world-class. I invite you to join us.