“Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, but there is unlikely to be a better time to begin to dismantle some of the barriers which have impeded genuine growth. Scottish education needs to escape from the ‘iron cage’ of its own bureaucracy. This will require vision, honesty and courage, qualities that, sadly, have not been in plentiful supply among political leaders (of all parties) in recent years.”
In a special guest blog, Sir Tom Hunter, whose eponymous Foundation commissioned the recent Raising Scotland’s Economic Growth Rate report from Oxford Economics, underlines how Scotland’s economy lags behind and needs radical change to catch up and rediscover its innovative dynamism.
Scotland – like the rest of the UK – is experiencing an epidemic of mental health problems among children and young people. An epidemic that, thanks to COVID19, is now a terrifying threat to the long-term health of the nation. But there is hope – if we can seize the opportunity, writes Sue Palmer
‘Child poverty is a systemic and deep routed issue that has been prevalent in our society for too long. However, universal free school meals all year round are unlikely to be the most effective way of tackling this issue.’
On the SQA crisis: ‘At the heart of Scotland’s educational malaise is a serious deficit in the quality of thinking at the top. Such a climate is a recipe for the apotheosis of mediocrity. Too many of those in senior positions are ineffective time-servers, compliant functionaries or political opportunists.’
‘Swinney’s actions during the pandemic have not inspired confidence. The pattern of announcing policy, being sent homeward to think again before quickly reversing that policy, has been almost comical. For instance, he should have foreseen that a categorical pledge to NQTs would marginalise any teachers who were not in that category.’
‘Scotland likes to see itself as a bold, brave, progressive, dynamic 21st Century nation, but the truth is more insular, conservative, deferential and, in the end, suffocating – not just for individuals, but for ideas and innovation too. Unless that changes, nothing else will.’
‘As for the other people on the forum, it would be surprising if any ‘wild cards’ are to be found, since the tried and tested mechanisms of patronage ensure that those who get through the vetting process have to be judged ‘sound’. In the conformist culture of Scottish education, any tendency to ‘rock the boat’ is unlikely to lead to career advancement.’ On the OECD review of the Curriculum for Excellence…
What might we learn from the progressive thinking which gave power to local public health officers who understood local lives and deaths.
As much as a third (32%) of the Scottish workforce isn’t working in the lockdown but it’s the young who are the hardest hit and faces the bleakest future – unless we adopt New Deal-style measures to prevent a “lost generation” being scarred for life.