Education reforms over 50 years have failed to make a significant improvement to the exam results of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, says a major new report. This is from the BBC…
An estimated one in five school leavers has few or no qualifications and poor skills in basic literacy and numeracy.
The Commission on School Reform says many changes had an inadequate impact.
Among those are raising the school leaving age, the launch of Standard Grade exams and comprehensive schools.
Responding, Councillor Douglas Chapman, education spokesperson for the umbrella body for local councils, Cosla, said they had a proud record for running schools.
“We are not complacent and we are willing to listen to views on how system can be improved further – but only if they are well thought out.
“Sadly, too many reports like this have in the past treated schools like isolated ‘islands of learning’, drawing the false conclusion that more school autonomy is the panacea for all the challenges we face.
“Local authorities provide flexibility and autonomy for schools but within an overall framework which supports and challenges schools to continue to improve.
“We also have a track record of encouraging innovation in the teaching profession, a point we made during the McCormac review into teacher employment.”
The report, “By Diverse Means: Improving Scottish Education”, says that Scotland performs well overall, being consistently in the top quarter of countries for education results.
However, it says the trend has been generally downward and Scotland is being overtaken.
In reading, almost half of the countries overtaking Scotland are developing countries where standards would be expected to be lower.
Scotland has not lacked good ideas for reform, it says, but implementation of them has often been weak and slow.
No school in a disadvantaged area has ever matched the performance of a school in a more affluent area, it reveals.
“It is worth noting that this is not true of other countries,” says the report.
It highlights rapid improvement in countries such as Poland, Singapore, England and Ontario in Canada.
The report suggests that many children begin to fall behind in early secondary, saying: “This has been apparent for at least 40 years. Yet decisive action has never been taken.”
It indicates that educational failure is “a personal disaster” for those concerned but has implications for the rest of society too, as this failure is often linked to unemployment, ill-health and possible involvement in crime.