Reform Scotland

Report: Scotland’s schools are good, but not world-leading

 Commission on School Reform (CSR) established by Reform Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy
·         CSR led by former Director of Education Keir Bloomer
·         Interim report says Scotland’s schools perform well by international standards, but have slipped and need to improve
An interim report by the Commission for School Reform, established by Reform Scotland and the CSPP, has concluded that Scotland’s schools offer a good quality of education and that the Curriculum for Excellence has the potential to lead to significant improvement. However, it also concludes that our schools are not the world-leading institutions that some believe they are, and in order to maintain and improve our international position we need to achieve better overall standards.
The report’s key points include:
·         Compared internationally, Scotland’s educational performance is among the world’s higher achieving systems, but its position has been slipping in recent years
·         Improvements in examination success has been more modest than in England, but this can be attributed to less ‘grade inflation’ than has been present in England
·         Performance is heavily dependent on levels of deprivation, with S2 pupils in poorer areas half as likely to perform well, so opposing systemic change on the basis of preserving equity does not withstand scrutiny
·         There is reason to believe that the Curriculum for Excellence sets appropriate objectives and is a step in the right direction
·         Previous education reform in Scotland has been ambitious in conception but compromised in implementation, because of caution about treating a generation of pupils as ‘guinea pigs’. The result has been incremental rather than transformational improvement, and continued weaknesses.
Commenting, the Group’s Chairman, Keir Bloomer, said:
“We should be encouraged about the performance of Scotland’s schools. We perform well by international standards and our children, by and large, receive a good standard of education.
“However, we should not delude ourselves about our position or allow ourselves to be complacent. Scotland’s relative international position has slipped although the decline may have been arrested. Scotland was without doubt a world leader but that time has passed, and in order for it to return we must improve.
“With the Curriculum for Excellence, we are taking steps in the right direction. However we must ensure that an ambitious conception results in ambitious implementation. Improvements in education need not be incremental – they can be transformational changes which make our children smarter and return our education system to world-leading status. We can, and we must, do better.”
The CSR will continue its work, taking evidence until 29th June and issuing its final report in late 2012.