The sensationalist claim gaining traction that Scottish education is fundamentally broken is not one that I subscribe to. It does a severe injustice to the remarkable achievements taking place in our schools every day, and the young - and not so young - people behind them. Concurrently, recent reports by OECD, Ken Muir and Louise Hayward have made clear that there is certainly room for development and innovation when it comes to how we educate our youngsters. This is, therefore, not a moment for procrastination.

Scotland’s well-intentioned national discussion on education was designed to kickstart a pedagogical step change by giving young people and teachers a seat at the table alongside academics and policymakers. However, whilst the Scottish Government now must consider how to make sense of a myriad views without falling into policy paralysis, there are a small number of disruptors unwilling to wait.

Gen+, The Wood Foundation’s Excelerate programme, and DayDream Believers are just three examples of providers already delivering new educational experiences designed to meet the opportunities and challenges of our time, as is FIDA: The Futures Institute at Dollar Academy.

I believe that many independent schools can, and should, work harder for the overall good of education. With this in mind, FIDA was launched in summer 2021, with a contemporary curriculum designed to give students from all backgrounds the knowledge, skills, and mindset required to tackle an uncertain future. A fully charitable initiative, it provides all young people across the country the opportunity to access free best-in-class educational opportunities.

What makes FIDA’s approach different? Sustainability is a core value, and is reflected in the 17 courses offered, which are each aligned with at least one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Learners are required to offer solutions to real-world problems, and more emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary learning. This helps ensure that young people are equipped with the agility of thought and openness of heart to confidently face society.

All content is created with industry and academic partners such as Barrat Homes, the Roslin Institute and Scottish Ballet, and we use a wide range of alternative assessment techniques that go beyond traditional exams. Learners portfolio their work, and we’re currently in talks with one Scottish university about direct accreditation of our developing Sustainability Diploma. This would enable students to gain direct entry to university via an alternative to the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) pathway.

We’re proud to play our part at the forefront of curricular reform in Scotland. Thousands of young people have participated in FIDA courses, we have more than 50 partner schools in local authorities across the country ranging from Shetland to Dumfries, and we’re particularly pleased that we’ve managed to reach SIMD1 areas.

Almost all schools possess the ability to be transformative but empowering them and harnessing their potential remains challenging. At this crucial time when parts of our education system are reimagined, we can also learn from the FIDAs of this world, who are perhaps in some regards already ahead of the curve.

Ian Munro is Rector of Dollar Academy