'Can do' confidence in schools

28th November 2003 at 00:00
his week's significant conference, "Towards A Confident Scotland", was in some ways a paradox. The general theme, that Scotland is in the grip of negative forces, was certainly enough to send people into the depression we were being urged to avoid. We can, of course, all recognise this description when it comes to the expectations of young people which schools are constantly pressed to raise, often - it is said - against the odds that are our national psyche.

But, historically, the school system has always appeared to buck negative perceptions. It was said, and often still is, to be "second to none" or "the best in the world". The key question that confronts schools - and it was a pity there were not more representatives at the conference - is whether they are also on the national rack in lacking confidence.

There is a world of difference between asserting there is something endemic in our nature which belittles or undermines achievement, and acknowledging the presence of potentially malevolent but ephemeral factors such as the way schools are managed or what they teach which may also undermine achievement. Which is it?

As our columns amply testify on a weekly basis, there is in many schools a dynamism and curiosity about the way pupils learn and how they should be taught that has probably never been present before. If Scotland is said to suffer from the "aye that'll be right" syndrome, many schools are acknowledging that there is not always a right and a wrong way of doing things. Some are even encouraging the notion that setbacks or failures are a learning experience, not the end of the road.

This particular road for schools is certainly long and winding but it is, dare we say it, a confident start.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today