CBI Scotland has called for the Teach First programme in England and Wales to become a model north of the border, so that schools and headteachers gain more autonomy over both curriculum and budget, thereby driving up standards.
Hugh Aitken, director of CBI Scotland, admitted Curriculum for Excellence had laid good foundations by focusing not just on academic attainment but also the wider challenges of work and life.
However, he said major changes were still necessary, including the appointment of more headteachers with leadership experience from outside education, and “more flexible entry routes” into the profession generally. Local business placements for teachers could also help “diversify” teaching.
“For the Scottish education system to be truly world class, more power needs to be devolved to schools, alongside a radical shake-up of the inspection regime to ensure zero-tolerance of poor performance,” Mr Aitken said.
The report, Delivering Excellence, also calls for better promotion of vocational work and Apprenticeships.
The school inspectorate, run by Education Scotland, should become fully independent of government, with greater accountability, since it is failing to drive up standards in poorly performing schools at present, according to the report.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “The EIS and government believe Scotland’s children deserve to be taught by highly trained, well-qualified professional teachers.
“Our teacher training and induction scheme is envied around the world and we should guard against proposals which would weaken the quality of our teaching staff.
“Scotland’s parents and pupils deserve better than the shoddy shambles of other systems which don’t apply the highest professional standards, often as a means of saving money.”
Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders’ Scotland, said successful business leaders whose only educational experience was of once having been a pupil, did not necessarily know how to run schools. In fact, positive examples of this type were “few and far between”.
A spokeswoman for Education Scotland said that as the key national agency responsible for driving improvement, it was already independently evaluating and reporting on the quality of schools across Scotland.
A Scottish government spokeswoman added: “The current system of independent inspections also allows us to ensure long-term sustainable improvement happens in schools.”