Send in the OECD

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I see that the Scottish government has finally responded to widespread criticism and called in experts (the OECD) to sort out Curriculum for Excellence.  This is the equivalent of calling in the IMF to sort out your economy.  It's humiliating, and not a great look.

Education once brought Scotland bragging rights across these islands.  No longer.  In the OECD's PISA tests, Scotland’ performance in maths and science have declined to 24th & 25th (out of 36), well below the UK average.  Reading skills are lower than they were 20 years ago.

“Curriculum for Excellence” is widely blamed following its introduction to schools in 2011.  This was a Labour policy continued by the Nationalists.  Some of the strongest criticism comes from Lindsay Paterson (professor of education policy at the University of Edinburgh).  Its critical flaw, he says, is:

a replacement of knowledge by process, children being encouraged to lead discovery by saying what they want to know, not being told what they should know – there is no recognition in the curriculum of a canon of necessary ideas or practices, no acknowledgement of any kind of theoretical framework that might give coherence to each curricular subject.”


As such, it is obvious that Curriculum for Excellence must discriminate against those from culturally-narrow home backgrounds.  Paterson makes the hitherto commonplace point that knowledge acquired through schools provides opportunities to people who cannot get it at home.

"If schools stop teaching structured knowledge, then inequality of access to knowledge will widen, because the children of the well-educated and the wealthy will get it in other ways."

England narrowly avoided this trap about 10 years ago as I have noted before.  

And so who better to fix the problem than the OECD whose tests the Scottish government is so anxious to do better in.  Meanwhile, and way beyond irony, the Welsh have hired the educational guru who designed Curriculum for Excellence to help them boost their PISA scores.  I hear that they have also asked the Scottish government for a copy of the recent request sent to the OECD so they can file it safely for future use.  Iechyd da!

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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