Reform Scotland

Partial, Sycophantic, and Superficial: The OECD Review Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, 2021

Lindsay Paterson says recent report is “shallow, badly written and has no systematic statistical evidence base”

Reform Scotland, the independent non-partisan think tank, has today published a paper written by Edinburgh University Professor Lindsay Paterson in which he states that the recent OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence:

  • did not deliberately seek out evidence that would contradict the views that were being put to the authors by the mainly establishment organisations which they consulted
  • presented the evidence it collected in a misleading way
  • gave no more than rhetorical treatment to the importance of knowledge in the curriculum

The full paper – Partial, Sycophantic, and Superficial: The OECD Review Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, 2021  – says the review was shaped around the Scottish Government’s agenda, and that opposition political parties have fallen into the trap of highlighting the OECD’s focus on the implementation of the curriculum, rather than highlighting the deficiency of the entire process.

The reception it received from both government and opposition ensures that the OECD report will become the most important influence on Scottish schools policy for the foreseeable future.

“This is a great shame because, from conception to delivery, the report was designed to tell Scotland’s educational establishment what it wanted to hear - that everything is essentially fine and they simply need to tweak some of the management structures.

“The evidence gathering process consisted of discussions with a list almost entirely made up of organisations which already develop, manage and advise on Scottish education policy.

“Moreover, the presentation of the only evidence which carries independent veracity - that of the PISA studies - is presented misleadingly.

“Finally, the report fails to address CfE’s primary controversy, which is not its implementation, but its lack of attention to the importance of knowledge.

“Scottish school education has deep problems. This partial, sycophantic and superficial report moves us further away from solving them.”

Professor Lindsay Paterson

“Education is the most important public service the government provides. It lays the foundation for the future of a country’s economy, its health service and its wellbeing.

“Yet there are increasingly regular, increasingly stark warnings about the state of Scotland’s schooling. Professor Lindsay Paterson’s latest warning, published by Reform Scotland, may be the starkest yet.

“The question is whether the Scottish Government, which on this topic has tended to close its eyes and its ears, will open them.”

Chris Deerin, Director, Reform Scotland