SQA reform: Scottish government unveils panel of experts


The Scottish Qualifications Authority is on the verge of being abolished, and now the Scottish Government has revealed the panel of experts who will lead the reforms.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville made the announcement in June this year following recommendations from a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD recommended placing the examination system under the responsibility of the curriculum body, Education Scotland.

Somerville said the 12 review recommendations will be accepted in their entirety, including recommendations on curriculum, assessment and qualifications which will see SQA replaced and Education Scotland significantly reformed.

READ MORE: Food shortages are due to Brexit, not the Covid pandemic, industry says

And now the Scottish government has released the proposed list of members of a panel of experts to lead the reforms.

The group, which has nine members, will meet at least once a month between August 2021 and January 2022.

There will also be meetings with stakeholders as part of a “general engagement exercise” in September this year.

But who are the members? Read below to find out more about the Scottish education reform group.


Muir (pictured) only retired this year from his post as chief executive and registrar of the General Education Council of Scotland (GTCS), the body responsible for teaching standards and regulation of the profession. Previously, prior to his appointment to GTCS in 2013, he worked for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) as Strategic Director (Schools) and Inspection Director during the founding of Education Scotland.

Muir was previously Professor of Geography and Geology in Ayrshire and has held various managerial positions. He is also the author of several geography textbooks, fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Royal Society of Arts.

Muir was also a member of the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, the Strategic Board for Teacher Education and the Scottish Education Council, and also served on the Covid Education Recovery Group until his retirement. He was awarded an honorary professorship at the University of the West of Scotland in January 2021.


Principal of Renfrewshire School since 2013, Burke began his career as a math teacher in 1998. According to the Scottish Government, Burke led the school through a “period of sustained improvement to a position of considerable strength. “.

Burke was President of School Leaders Scotland in 2018-19 and has worked with key educational organizations nationwide. He is also an associate tutor at the University of Strathclyde and co-host of the educational podcast “Changing Conversations”.

The National:


Former teacher Donaldson (pictured) was head of HMIE between 2002 and 2010. The Scottish government has said it has ‘radically transformed the approach to inspection’ in Scotland with more emphasis on self-assessment and improvement.

It introduced the inspection of local authorities and established a national and multidisciplinary inspection system for child protection. Donaldson played a major role in curriculum reform in Scotland and after his retirement from HMIE his report “Teaching Scotland’s Future” (2011) was accepted in full and led to a major reform program of teacher training in Scotland.

In 2014 it carried out a review of the Welsh curriculum and the Welsh government accepted all 68 recommendations in its report. He is currently an advisor on education reform to the Minister for Education and Skills for Wales and a member of the International Council of Educational Advisers in Scotland.


Hayward is Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation at the University of Glasgow and was a member of the Assessment Reform Group. In 2018, she founded the International Education Assessment Network.

A former teacher, Hayward has worked with UNESCO, the OECD and policy and practice communities in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Norway, Turkey and Slovenia. According to the Scottish Government, his interests lie in curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, and social justice. She currently chairs the Independent Commission on the Future of Assessment and Qualifications in England.


Humes was Professor of Education at three Scottish universities and is now Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling. He has written extensively on educational governance, policy analysis and curriculum reform, and is co-editor of Scottish Education. Humes received a John Nisbet Fellowship from the British Education Research Association for his contribution to educational research.

The National:


Professor Looney (pictured) is the Executive Dean of the Institute of Education at the University of Dublin, Ireland’s largest education faculty. She was CEO of the National Council for Programs and Evaluation from 2001 to 2016.

Looney’s research interests are assessment policies and practices, curriculum, identity of teachers, and professional standards for teachers and teaching.

She has been a member of the OECD Review Team on School Quality and Assessment Systems, and acts as a technical expert for the European Commission on initial teacher education projects.

The National:


Mohammed (pictured) is a program leader and senior member of the Academy of Higher Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, and was the first BME Muslim educator to be elected vice-chair of the GTCS.

The Scottish Government said his doctorate focused on ‘racial equality exploring the lived experiences of black and ethnic minority teachers in Scotland with an emphasis on celebrating their cultural, linguistic and religious identities’.

Mohammed is the co-founder and chairman of the Scottish Association of Ethnic Minority Educators (SAMEE), and is also chairman of the Advance HE / Scottish Funding Council Tackling Racial Harassment in Universities and Colleges project.

The National:


McCulloch OBE (photo) is co-director and co-founder of the Children’s Parliament in Scotland. She has a background in community education and has worked in rural and urban areas for the past 30 years.

McCulloch’s management experience has primarily focused on organizations working with BME communities, children and families.

She has worked in the Children’s Parliament for 25 years, working on projects that “put the effective participation and engagement of children at the heart of their hearts” to enable young people to influence policies that better reflect their needs.

The National:


Dr Stanford (pictured) is a practitioner and author of organization design, having previously been employed by large multinational companies such as British Airways and Marks & Spencer.

She lived and worked in the United States as an organization design consultant for government organizations, non-profit organizations and private sector companies, before returning to the United Kingdom to work in the public sector.

Stanford is now a freelance writer and a third edition of his book A Guide to Organization Design will be published in March 2022.


Leave A Reply