John Swinney

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John Swinney is Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in Scotland, a post he took up in May 2016.[1]

Swinney is an SNP Memebr of the Scottish Parliament. He was deputy leader of the Scottish National Party from 1998 to 2000 and party leader between 2000 and 2004.

He was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in 2011 and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution & Economy in 2014.

Education reform in Scotland

At the end of June 2016 the Scottish Government published a major national delivery plan for improving Scottish education over the next few years. Delivery Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education was drafted in response to a recent review of Scottish education carried out by the OECD.[2]

The delivery plan has a particular focus on the use of data – performance measurement, metrics and evidence gathering – to drive improvements and discipline under-performance.

As academic Ben Williamson points out, the plan emphasizes: •the use of standardized assessment to gather attainment data •the gathering of diverse data about the academic progress and well-being of pupils at all stages •pre-inspection questionnaires, school inspection and local authority self-evaluation reports •the production of key performance indicators on employability skills •greater performance measurement and measurement of schools •new standards and evaluation frameworks for schools •information on teacher induction, teacher views, and opportunities for professional learning •evidence on the impact of parents in helping schools to improve •regular publication of individual school data •the use of visual data dashboards to make school data transparent •training for ‘data literacy’ among teachers •comparison with international evidence.[3]

Williamson notes: 'The relentless focus by the Scottish Government on performance information, inspection, comparison, measurement and evidence is demonstrative of how education systems, organizations and individuals are now the subjects of increasing demands of producing data.'[4]


  1. John Swinney profile, Scottish government website, accessed Sept 2016
  2. Delivery Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education, Scottish Government delivery plan for educaiton, June 2016
  3. Performing Data, Code Acts in Education blog, 22 July 2016
  4. Performing Data, Code Acts in Education blog, 22 July 2016