Analysis: Like our schools, report a bit of a curate’s egg
IN ITS report, the Commission for School Reform (CSR) found that Scotland’s schools are good but not world-leading. We are in the chasing pack but slipping down the field, if CSR is to be believed.
In the three areas studied by the OECD – reading, science and maths – mathematics is the only subject where Scotland’s international ranking is below the average. The establishment of the excellence group for mathematics will hopefully address some of the key problems regarding low attainment.
However, cultural differences should be taken into account. For example, with regard to the global performance of students in maths, the first five places are taken by Asian locations – Shanghai (China), Singapore, Hong Kong (China), Korea and Taiwan. Unfortunately, in Scotland, maths is deemed to be boring and only studied by oddball geeks. While many other school subjects have been dumbed down in the desire to make learning “fun”, mathematics has remained stubbornly resistant to reaching out to the lowest common denominator.
The CSR report’s confirmation that Scotland lamentably fails to educate deprived children is welcomed; that S2 pupils in poverty are half as likely to perform well is a scar on the back of the nation. To be fair, politicians do make the right noises – literacy action plans, early intervention, nurture groups and the like – but with every triennial publication of the OECD survey, the country’s apartheid education system is once more laid bare for the world to see. Sadly, the recession and the attack on welfare benefits are likely to exacerbate this awful situation.
The CSR’s chairman, Keir Bloomer, a key architect of the Curriculum for Excellence, put his trademark modesty to one side and heaped praise on the new initiative. Methinks he has popped the champagne cork before the guests have arrived – after all, previous pioneering changes to the curriculum have ultimately proved to be nothing more than passing fads.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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