The Education Committee brings together experts across all areas and levels of education to debate and analyse educational issues and produce recommendations for decision-makers. Since its inception in 2009, it has established itself as an independent and credible voice on various education issues such as the attainment gap, the review of Curriculum for Excellence and interdisciplinary learning.

Committee purpose

The Education Committee:

Is concerned with all aspects of education in Scotland, and at all stages;

Considers education initiatives or proposals and advises RSE Council on how the Society should respond to these, particularly those from Government;

Organises events that stimulate debate on educational issues;

Is proactive in identifying and promoting priorities for education in Scotland;

Liaises with other relevant groups, including other RSE Committees.

Committee activities


There are a number of major reforms underway in Scottish education, not least the continuing implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and the new national qualifications in Scotland.

The Committee has been concerned about the absence of a strategy for independent evaluation of the CfE reforms and has engaged with the Scottish Government on its proposals for commissioning the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to review CfE. The RSE has collated materials relating to the development and implementation of Curriculum for Excellence which have been submitted to the OECD reviewers.


The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) has, in partnership with others, sought over many years to raise the profile of interdisciplinary learning (IDL) in Scottish education, especially at primary and secondary school levels. While IDL is an explicit context for learning within Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), it has not yet been widely developed or embedded in school practice. The Committee recognises that there are positive examples of IDL being successfully implemented in schools, but in others it is clear that there has been little or no coordinated IDL development, indicating sporadic implementation at best.

The Education Committee held its first major full-day conference in January 2019 on the topic of IDL in education. This brought together policy makers and influencers, practitioners, learners and employers, and combined insights from leading international figures and practical wisdom and experience from closer to home. The conference considered: what IDL is; the importance of IDL for addressing major societal and global challenges; how IDL is currently being developed and delivered in Scotland and in other education systems; the main challenges to implementing IDL; and how teachers and schools can be supported to deliver IDL.

Interdisciplinary Learning: Creative Thinking for a Complex World

Reflecting the findings of the conference, the Committee published an advice paper in February 2020, setting out the actions and conditions needed to support the delivery of IDL in Scotland’s schools.

Embedding Interdisciplinary Learning in Scottish Schools

The IDL Network is a response to feedback provided by teachers during the 2019 conference which indicated that the sharing of best practice is critical to IDL delivery. The Network hosts free resources, guest blogs and a discussion space for practitioners.

The IDL Network


An in-depth look into interdisciplinary learning and its benefits.
A statement of intent for the adoption and implementation of interdisciplinary learning as a key feature of Scottish education.


The RSE responds to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into diversity in STEM.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh has responded to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) consultation on the operation of the Research Excellent Grant (REG) and Research Postgraduate Grant (RPG).
The LSG response to Professor Ken Muir’s consultation on the proposed replacement of the SQA and reform of Education Scotland.
The RSE Education Committee response to Professor Ken Muir’s consultation on the proposed replacement of the SQA and reform of Education Scotland.
The letter presents the LSG’s suggestions for proposed modifications to National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher assessments for 2020-21, in response to a consultation by SQA.
The response highlights that the Covid-19 pandemic will have long term impacts on the Scottish Budget as it has increased public debt to its highest peacetime level.
What does a resilient nation look like? How can government, industry, and society learn from the pandemic, the future risks and challenges, and what are the priority actions to build resilience?
This briefing paper highlights what the Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education believes are the most prominent issues for STEM education in Scotland and presents associated recommendations and calls for action.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Education Committee responded to Scottish Qualifications Authority’s (SQA) consultation on proposed models for the 2021 appeals process.

Committee Membership

Vincent Docherty
Head of Education, Aberdeenshire Council
Dr Katherine Duncan (YAS)
Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Strathclyde
Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Edinburgh
Professor Walter Humes
Honorary Professor, University of Stirling
RSE General Secretary (ex officio)
Dr Alice König (YAS)
Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews
Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen
Principal and CEO, City of Glasgow College
Dr Andrew Manches (YAS)
Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
Douglas Morrison (YAS)
Director of Operations and Future Skills, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre
Scott Pennock
Head Teacher, Wallace High School
Professor Ian Rivers FRSE
Associate Principal and Executive Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde
Ali Ross
Acting Principal Teacher, Mauricewood Primary School
Dr Edward Sosu
Reader, University of Strathclyde
Interim Policy Manager
Catriona Wallace (YAS)
Head of Early Years, Scottish Book Trust
Dr Rebecca Warren (YAS)
Physics teacher, St George’s School for Girls
Gareth Williams
Head of Policy, SCDI

Contact the education committee

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