Look outside education

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

State schools in Scotland have gone through a revolution in how they operate. Teaching methods have been overhauled and accountability introduced through statistical analysis, quality assurance and the introduction of a compliance regime by local and national bodies. This month's report by CPPR (Centre for Public Policy for Regions) suggests that, despite significant change and more money provided, attainment levels in Scotland are flat-lining or declining.

The main concern must be the problems associated with attainment levels, although politicians and critics of Scottish education may be more interested in the cost. Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray wants to look for reasons behind the findings presented by the report (TESS, October 16). I get the feeling that, once again, the agenda will be dominated by politicians looking to the educational establishment outside schools for answers. This is the same educational establishment which has driven the schools' agenda for the last two decades.

Instead of looking south of the border for answers to our stalled attainment levels, might I suggest we look to others outside education? Scotland has shown itself resistant to attempts to change habits or attitudes. Efforts have been made to improve attitudes to diet, alcohol, smoking and anti-social behaviour. As with education, we see early improvement in the above but a levelling off as time goes on.

Perhaps we need to look at the Scots from the perspective of a wider group of disciplines, to see if we can find deeper reasons for this. Maybe too much reliance on "Journeys", "Excellence" and "Leadership" means we will not get the promised results.

James Waugh, Nether Currie Crescent, Midlothian.

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