Scotland’s consensus-seeking approach celebrates education as a public good

Janet Downs's picture
Writing in the Guardian, Melissa Benn describes a meeting with a British education minister who ‘spoke eloquently of the necessity of a highly qualified teaching profession, free university learning and the vital importance of public education as a "societal, not just an individual, good"’.

Unfortunately, it was not Michael Gove but his counterpart in Scotland, Michael Russell.

Melissa writes: “Scotland has deliberately rejected what Russell accurately labels the Germ (Global Education Reform Movement) approach so beloved of the coalition, with its commitment to privatisation, competition and deregulation.” Instead, Scotland has adopted a consensus approach rejecting the Germ model which is described by Pasi Sahlberg, education change activist and Director General of CIMO in Helsinki, as a virus which infects education systems.

Scotland’s consensual approach is exemplified by the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), launched in 2011 in all Scottish state schools after many years of development involving teachers and practitioners. It took account of existing good practice, research and international evidence. CfE recognises the importance of teacher professionalism in exercising freedom and responsibility within a context of broader guidance.

Compare this more measured approach with Michael Gove’s “three initiatives before breakfast” hyperactivity underpinned by dubious rhetoric and misleading data.

English pupils, undergraduates and parents deserve better.

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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 29/08/2012 - 18:30

Ken Muir understands and implements the principles of good inspection. Scottish systems of school inspection would have no problem being placed under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act.

And we get Wilshaw....... :/

English pupils, undergraduates and parents deserve better.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 02/09/2012 - 10:59

Having followed your link to the C4E website and downloaded no fewer than seven documents with promising titles, I've now read an awful lot of guff about this curriculum and its boasted benefits, but I can't find anywhere what exactly is the content. Can you help?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 02/09/2012 - 12:00

:-) You can come and meet the members of my family who are teaching it if you like Ricky.

You're also welcome to come and meet those who are studying it and have seen the change through and so can compare and contrast with what was there before.

My personal opinion is that they have given appropriate attention to the move towards the skills assessed by PISA and the findings of major research studies but that they could have done it more smartly had they had access to the ICT infrastructure resources we have and the level of national ICT infrastructure expertise we used and that the US dept. ed is now investing heavily in.

The problem with the likes of the Scottish curriculum being a highly professional one is that it is difficult for parents (and sometimes children) to understand and participate in independently. It's that issue which could be effectively overcome with an intelligent use of ICT infrastructure.

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