25 years ago

28th February 1997 at 00:00
The centenary of compulsory education in Scotland, finds schools in disarray, writes R.F. Mackenzie, headteacher of Summerhill Academy, Aberdeen. Few things have changed so little in Scotland since 1872 (or indeed since 1572) as its educational system. Some people are asking if one reason for Scotland's grave economic situation is the dullness of the imagination imposed on Scottish youth by its schools, the lack of resilience, of initiative, of the ability to adapt to change.

The Scottish Mathematics Group have proposed a number of amendments to the current alternative O grade syllabuses in maths and arithmetic. The group says that recent papers have been too sophisticated.

The role of the grant-aided schools, which in Edinburgh provide 15 per cent of all the pupil places in secondary education, was defended by Mr W.S. McIntosh Reid, master of the Edinburgh Merchant Company, at the company's annual dinner. The five times over-subscription for a place among the 4,500 pupils looked after by the company gave the lie to those who would claim: "The state knows best and must do it all."

The Women's Royal Voluntary Service has proposed a ban on helpers under 18 in its holiday camps. Mrs Margaret Kinnaird, children's welfare organiser, whose department is responsible for sending some 700 children annually to host families and holiday camps, said: "Youthful volunteers lack the maturity and stability necessary for residential camp work."

She described one case of "long-haired girl helpers" whose assurance had finally cracked in the face of the lice infestation which had swept one camp in spite of stringent medical examinations.

Soviet Academician Nikolai Amosov is certain every child can reach a level of mental development above the average provided there is proper pre-school education.

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