‘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’.
‘The fact that young children and adolescents were not only punished for gross disobedience but also minor misdemeanours and errors in schoolwork is, to my mind, unforgivable.’
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.
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.
‘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’.
‘I worry also about nest-egg building by those from high incomes, as a new form of hidden advantage, because of the low interest rate on student loans here. We could apply higher interest to loans to those from better-off households (but we won’t)….’
‘In Scotland, we perhaps put too much emphasis on formal, externally assessed exams – and is it really necessary for students to take them every year for the whole three years of the senior phase?’
Wonk of the year Lucy: ‘The signs are that the wrong people are being made to pay for current higher education policy in Scotland, in skewed debt or lost support, restricted opportunities and squeezed funding overall. As far as I can recall, no-one in Scottish university senior management has ever argued with me about this in public, nor got in touch to tell me privately that they disagree’.