Out for the count

28th September 2001 at 01:00
Some of the Education Minister's advisers clearly felt the speech they had prepared for him on assessment (page four) required some gravitas. So they brought in Einstein.

The great man had apparently a sign on his wall bearing the legend: "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

This was clearly an early warning against national testing and it inspired the speechmakers to greater oratorical heights. Jack McConnell added: "We want to ensure that everything in Scotland's schools that is counted does count, and that what cannot readily be counted nevertheless counts in other ways." We think we know what he means.

Einstein can prove a mixed blessing. Mike Russell, for the SNP, thought the grand old man of physics was espousing exactly the opposite of the new assessment regime McConnell had just announced. This, Russell said triumphantly, "just proves that Einstein and Jack McConnell are not like minds."

Russell had another opportunity when Brian Monteith, for the Tories, asked an innocent-sounding question: "When is a test national and when is it not?" The Nationalist rottweiler pounced. That question "shows that Mr Monteith and Einstein are also not like minds".

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