30 years ago

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Was it a mistake to raise the school-leaving age, asked Professor John P Mackintosh on the front page of The TES Scotland of March 22, 1974.

Professor Mackintosh had just lost Berwick and East Lothian to the Tories in the February election of that year, but was to regain the seat in October: For all their horrors, elections do bring home to the candidates the points at which the shoe is pinching. And this last election produced one fairly constant complaint from school teachers: was it not a mistake to have raised the school-leaving age and would it not be better to go back on this?

Some agreed there was a case for more nursery schools. Others felt that there were gaps to be plugged in further education, but no one maintained that raising the school-leaving age had been a good thing . . .

There was the consequential point about the difficulty of maintaining any discipline. Several (teachers) quoted a statement attributed to a Hawick High School teacher that he did not provide education; he was engaged in crowd control . . .

Perhaps it is all just further support for the contention that it is time for a new overall look at Scottish education . . . for a Royal Commission on the status, aims and functions of the profession.

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