Howie is the way forward

16th May 2008 at 01:00
As a member of the committee that produced the Howie report on Upper Secondary Education in Scotland (1992), I should like to remind your readers how relevant it is at a time when the Education Secretary is considering reform of the post-compulsory stages of the curriculum and especially a Scottish baccalaureate
As a member of the committee that produced the Howie report on Upper Secondary Education in Scotland (1992), I should like to remind your readers how relevant it is at a time when the Education Secretary is considering reform of the post-compulsory stages of the curriculum and especially a Scottish baccalaureate.

John Howie's recommendations were the best but were set aside on account of cost - to implement the radical outcome proposed would have been expensive, as are all Rolls-Royce solutions. Higher Still would do instead - cheap and not so cheerful.

Secondly, the older universities, of which Professor Howie was a distinguished representative, torpedoed his reforms on the disingenuous grounds, that they were divisive and elitist. The real reason, as I saw clearly, being a senior university administrator myself and a member of the Scottish Universities Council on Entrance, was that they feared for the survival of the four-year honours degree course.

The third reason for the failure of Howie is that not all members of the committee were loyal to the report. At least two went on record after its publication to declare publicly that they had gone down the Damascus road and, unlike the apostle, had emerged full of doubt. This act of betrayal helped convince those who needed convincing that the report was flawed.

I support John Howie in his bid for the monumental and radical document that bears his name to be brought out of obscurity and for its contents and recommendations to be re-read. Many of those who once condemned it now rue their hasty and ill-considered verdicts and are busy re-examining its words of wisdom.

They will be concluding, as some of us have never wavered in concluding, that Howie is indeed the way forward.

Ronald Crawford, Colonsay Drive, Newton Mearns.

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