Scottish education must be returned to its former glory – Kenny MacAskill MP

I’m proud of my Scottish state school education. It served me well, as it had done my parents before me and indeed my children after me.

Scotland must use the post-Covid period to change education for the better, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: John Devlin)
Scotland must use the post-Covid period to change education for the better, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: John Devlin)

Teaching staff were committed and hard working and that applies to this today. But changes are needed and this is now an opportunity to address them.

It’s been hard for youngsters who’ve seen their schools closed due to coronavirus and their classes having to be delivered online. It’s equally been hard for staff to adjust.

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That’s taken innovation and a lot of thought and ingenuity. I know many teachers who say they’ve never worked harder even if they’ve been based at home. But it’s true as the efforts they’ve been required to make have been extraordinary.

Youngsters have missed out though and we’re going to have to ensure we help them catch up. That’ll take changes to how we’ve been doing things and some out-of-the-box thinking as to what else we can do to help them. But it needs done to ensure these young people can fulfil their potential.

But this is also an opportunity to make some necessary changes in Scottish education as it hasn’t been fulfilling its full potential.

That’s not down to failures by staff or failings in pupils, it is more systemic. Professor Lindsay Paterson, an expert in education and someone I greatly admire, has made just that point in a recent paper he has produced.

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Scottish education isn’t in meltdown and staff and pupils are working hard. But it’s not as good as it used to be and not as good as it either should or must be. It has slipped from where we rightly prided it on being and that needs addressed.

The fault seems to be more institutional and systemic. The curriculum in parts has narrowed, emphasis on critical aspects been reduced and the attainment gap has been worsened by Covid.

It’s why, post-Covid, it can’t and shouldn’t be an exact resetting of the dial to where we were before. As well as changes to catch up after Covid, let’s make changes to catch up more generally.

Kenny MacAskill is the Alba party MP for East Lothian

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