BUSINESS leaders have come under fire from teachers and headteachers after calling for a radical shake-up of Scottish education.

Amongst the measures CBI Scotland wants to see are high-flying graduates drafted into schools without teaching qualifications.

Its report also calls for more headteachers to be appointed from leadership roles outside education.

The business group also recommends that Scotland's school inspectorate run by the Education Scotland quango should be made fully independent of government arguing it is currently "weak" in driving up standards in poorly-performing schools.

Hugh Aitken, director of CBI Scotland, said the recommendations were part of a general move to devolve more autonomy over the curriculum and finances to schools.

He said: "The new curriculum in Scotland has laid strong foundations with its dual focus on academic attainment and developing the broader behaviours needed for success in work and life.

"But 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."

He added that the careers system remained a "weak link" in the system with the "vast majority" of businesses think it was not good enough with vocational routes "undersold" to young people.

However, the recommendations in the document, Delivering Excellence, were attacked by teaching unions who have opposed the introduction of graduates to schools in England and Wales under the TeachFirst scheme.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "The EIS and others with an interest in education, including the Scottish Government, believe that 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, which represents secondary headteachers, said the appointment of successful business leaders to run schools was problematic.

He said: "I would be very reluctant for someone with no experience of education, other than being a pupil, being given a job as a headteacher because examples of where that has been successful are few and far between.

A spokeswoman for Education Scotland defended the organisation's role. She said: "As the key national agency responsible for driving improvement in Scottish education we have robust arrangements in place to ensure we are able to independently evaluate and report on the quality of school provision 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."

The CBI Scotland report comes after studies have highlighted that around one third of Scottish businesses are not satisfied with the basic literacy and numeracy skills of school and college leavers.

The report states: "Currently, the sanctions for schools found to be performing poorly are not clear. Other than re-inspection there appears to be no direct impact on the local authority or school.

"Without the strength to effectively challenge poor performance in schools, the accountability framework is severely weakened."

On entry into the teaching profession the report states: "The task faced in Scotland is not helped by the strictly controlled entry routes.

"Bolstering flexible entry routes into teaching such as part-time university courses, or employment-based routes to encourage career changes would

help diversify the profession while maintaining standards."

"The success of the Teach First programme in England and Wales, designed to attract highly-qualified graduates into schools in deprived areas,

could provide a model for Scotland."