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Editor's comment

Keir Bloomer, a real mover and shaker over the years in various guises union activist, education officer and council director believes Scottish education risks falling behind other countries if it does not escape central political control. Ellen Moir, on the other hand, internationally renowned expert in the development of teachers, looks at the system from an American perspective and gives it the thumbs up. So who is right? The insider or the outsider?

Mr Bloomer will have won few friends with his claim that cutting class sizes is a "grotesque waste of money" that does not improve pupil performance (p1). While there is merit in his argument that the quality of teacher-pupil feedback has a significant impact, surely the win-win situation is to improve this aspect of teaching while simultaneously reducing class sizes. If teachers are not changing the way they teach to suit the individual needs of pupils in smaller classes, surely this should be addressed.

His proposals for a radical restructuring may have struck a chord with practitioners suffering from "initiative-itis". On the face of it, his call for the removal of education from the vagaries of political control would bring about a steadiness of direction. The problem, however, with placing education under the direction of a BBC-style trust is accountability. Who would run it? Someone like him who believes passionately that the core purpose of education should be "learning how to learn", or a traditional target setter?

When Mrs Moir views educational developments in Scotland, it is some of the politically-inspired changes that she praises. The induction system for new teachers and the chartered teacher programme for the more experienced are outcomes of the national teachers' agreement. Would an educational trust have had the muscle or will to implement such far-reaching reforms?

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