‘The problems now inherent in Scottish education, both falling standards and the attainment gap, are cultural not just structural. Significant progress can only be made with real attempts to alleviate poverty and a genuine alliance of people and organisations across Scotland committed to significant change’.
Rory Scothorne explores the emergence of student radicalism in Scotland, arguing that the politicisation of Scottish students during the “1968 era” has left a lasting impression on Scottish politics and culture rather than the prevailing myth about 1968: it didn’t happen here.
‘(McGarvey’s) aware that many on the left will see this as a cop out but he’s ready with his reply. Of course, the left must continue to argue and campaign for structural change, he tells us, but no real change can happen unless poor people begin to feel powerful in their own lives.
‘Carol Craig has seen and shown how the child is father to the adult, identifying the childhood stresses that result in lifelong damage. But without substantial easing of the economic tensions that strain a household to breaking point, the requisite change isn’t coming any day soon’.
The language of Scottish education needs to become less boastful and sentimental, and more honest. Professor Walter Humes calls for a national policy debate with people prepared to ask tough questions and challenge orthodoxies of an under-achieving education system.
Nothing in education is simple. Professor Emer Smyth throws light on the complex interplay between gender and class at school and urges special investment in support for working class boys.
Liberty and equality are both desirable, but too much of one can lead to too little of the other. Fraternity – the value of face to face relationships of respect and affection – can help establish a fair balance along with equity. In the third extract from Working for Equality the author pleads the case for a leaving certificate of equal value for all.
“It’s not an English problem any more than it’s a Scottish one, it’s a problem for us all.” Alan Milburn’s research report The Elite of Scotland revealed some uncomfortable facts of life in a nation that prides itself on fairness.
‘And that is the hidden danger in the system, where mediocrity for all is preferred to investing in individual excellence – in every sphere of human activity, including music. The battle to save CoEMS has laid this bare; now we need to fight to rid ourselves of it altogether’.
‘We need to speak up for ourselves and other children from Scotland’s past. We need to fathom out how to protect subsequent generations. As a society we need to recognise how a good childhood, free of toxic stress, forms the basis of future physical and mental health. And as a country we need to admit that nurturing children has never been one of Scotland’s strengths.’