A practically perfect way to reform scottish education

6th January 2012 at 00:00

As a retired head, I still retain a streak of Mary Poppins in my character. I think this is true of all heads, including those of my male colleagues who may wish to disguise it. Thus I propose a new year's resolution for all of us who care about Scottish education.

We need robust questioning and debate as we work together during a very significant period of reform. But could we avoid playground squabbles in which we simply denigrate or undermine any view or suggestion with which we disagree?

We should want challenging questions, just as we encourage pupils to think for themselves and query accepted wisdom. On the other hand, we also encourage them to engage in projects and enterprises.

It does not take much reading of online chatrooms to see that many members of the teaching profession are concerned; they deserve proper engagement and responses. Similarly, those tasked with leading reform need the freedom to respond openly and discuss difficulties.

The best modern approach to this I have seen recently is that of the Heriot-Watt University Crucible, a development programme for early-career academics, covering collaboration, interdisciplinarity, innovation and leadership. We need such a programme for school education, with plenty of challenge but no negativity.

Judith McClure CBE, convener of the Scotland China Education Network.

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