'Crude' to measure pupils by academic effort

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
I noticed with concern that your report on the mooted science academies last week made use of the phrase "brightest and best" when referring to those young people most likely to be entrants to such establishments.

More concerning was the fact that the phrase was drawn from the press statement issued by a "source close to the First Minister" which read: "The plan... would help enable the brightest and best pupils to reach their potential".

At a time when considerable efforts are being made by so many in Scottish education to promote effective social inclusion, to identify and celebrate achievement beyond academic attainment, and to create a broader vision of educational success around the four capacities of A Curriculum for Excellence, it is dispiriting to hear official statements which continue to evaluate children's worth according to academic attainment.

In the same issue, we read a reminder from Ian Smith about the need to address the alienation and rejection many young people experience in our system. This is a position they find themselves in because of the crude measures of academic attainment which deem them less equal than others.

As long as those in positions of authority continue the message that some are "better" people than others on this account, the hope of bringing to reality the more inclusive, positive schooling the country requires is compromised.

Donald Gillies Department of educational and professional studies Faculty of education University of Strathclyde

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