Raymond Robertson, Scottish office minister for education, welcomed the news.
He said: 'The Education (Scotland) Act 1996 touches on many areas of the Scottish education and training system. It provides for improvements in quality, choice and diversity.
'It provides for improvements in the nursery sector and improved standards in our secondary schools through national testing in S1 and S2. It will also raise performance across the range of Scottish qualifications by the setting up of the new Scottish Qualifications Authority.
The act contains a number of provisions. It will:
-- establish a new qualifications authority to take over the existing functions of the Scottish Examination Board and the Scottish Vocational Education Council
-- empower the secretary of state to make grants to persons providing education to certain categories of children who have not attained school age
-- empower the Secretary of State to make regulations for the testing and assessment of pupils in the first or second year of secondary school.
-- reform procedures for School Boards
-- modify school placing request rules to cater for pupils moving into an area during a school year
-- limit the use of procedures under the self-governing schools etc. (Scotland) Act 1989 for schools to seek self- governing status by school boards or parents simply for the purpose of blocking school closures proposed by an education authority.
-- ensure that education authorities give appropriate consideration to safety issues when considering whether or not it is necessary to make school transport arrangements in respect of an individual pupil.
-- end the requirement on local authorities to obtain the approval of the Secretary of State for major school building projects
-- amend the secretary of state's regulation-making power in relation to education authorities.