Reforms ‘damaging pupils’ potential and demotivating teachers’

Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: Scott Louden
Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: Scott Louden
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The reforms imposed on Scotland’s education system is demotivating teachers and preventing pupils from achieving their academic potential, the head teacher of a leading independent school has warned.

Rod Grant, the headmaster of Clifton Hall School outside Edinburgh, has launched a hard-hitting attack on the Scottish Government’s approach to education, claiming that it is creating a “pressure pot” environment.

In an article written in response to education secretary John Swinney’s latest plans to improve the education system, Mr Grant warned that “the near constant cycle of reform is intensely dispiriting and demotivating”.

Mr Grant said: “During the last ten years we have had changes to the curriculum, new examinations, new and more wide-ranging assessments, a lengthy period 
of under-resourcing, teachers leaving the profession in high numbers, a new programme of re-accreditation of teachers every five years, a full 
and intensive inspection cycle of schools, quality improvement officers, a myriad of 
initiatives and now a statement from the education secretary on the need for ‘reform’.”

Mr Swinney has announced a series of reforms to school governance in an attempt to achieve the SNP’s key goal of closing the attainment gap, an aspiration that Nicola Sturgeon has staked her reputation on.

The Scottish Government’s education record has come under pressure recently with the global Pisa study showing that numeracy and literacy standards in Scotland has slipped.

While recent studies have also showed that numeracy and literacy levels in children from the poorest areas have declined in recent years. Mr Grant said the system was heading for “potential meltdown”.

Mr Grant believes that too much focus on getting good attainment results will discourage schools from stretching pupils.

He argued that schools do not want to risk their reputation by encouraging pupils to sit exams that they may fail.