OECD report: No wonder John Swinney got expelled as Education Secretary – John McLellan

Three weeks ago amidst confusion about this year’s school exams, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had full confidence in the Scottish Qualifications Authority, only for the new Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to announce a review a couple of hours later.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was moved from education and put in charge of the Covid recovery (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire)
Deputy First Minister John Swinney was moved from education and put in charge of the Covid recovery (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire)

Yet both will have known about the contents of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s study of the Scottish education system because it was in the Scottish Government’s possession for months before the election, and its publication has signed the death warrant for both Education Scotland and the SQA.

The OECD report is fulsome in its praise for the original vision for Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) but withering about the execution, which is what educationalists here have been saying for years. It’s hard to believe Ms Sturgeon wasn’t aware the SQA was past its sell-by date.

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“Learning approaches designed in CfE are not fully realised in secondary schools,” the report says. “CfE’s aspiration to place the student at the centre of learning appears at odds with competing agendas of standardisation,” and “later years of secondary education did not evolve alongside CfE”.

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CfE’s implementation in secondary schools goes back to 2010 and so has been entirely the SNP’s responsibility, but one of the most damning passages says that schools “lack clarity on the number of subjects their students should study”.

When education was supposed to be the First Minister’s top priority and schools don’t even know how many subjects students should study, no wonder previous deputy First Minister John Swinney was expelled from the education brief.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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