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Ofsted meets Victoria Quay

There needs to be a balanced curriculum, one which offers vocational options, stretches pupils and deploys assessment to support teaching - backed by a four-level qualifications framework. These words are not out of the Executive's mouths at Victoria Quay. They are the conclusions of the Tomlinson report on 14-19 reform in England, as summarised by Mike Tomlinson, former head of the Ofsted inspectorate, who came north this week to share his thoughts in the first winter lecture hosted by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

The "high degree of commonality" Mr Tomlinson found north and south of the border, both in the problems and the solutions facing schools, was further reinforced when he referred in the English context to the virtue of "stage not age" in deciding when pupils should sit exams, and to the declining performance of pupils in the early years of secondary.

His lecture was an important reminder that Scotland shares educational issues with England and, sometimes, can even learn lessons. This contrasts with the synthetic row last week between the Education Minister and his Tory shadow on fast-track teacher training.

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