Pisa proves to be a vindication of Scotland

13th December 2013 at 00:00

Although there are numerous ways of interpreting the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), they do lend some succour to those - such as former Scottish education minister Peter Peacock (pictured) - who have for decades actively resisted following England into its prescriptive curriculum model, its dismantling of comprehensivisation, its decimation of local authority influence and its punitive inspection regime.

The Pisa results may not be worth a day of national celebration, but slightly outscoring England in reading and maths, and coming only marginally below that country in science, can be seen as a vindication of maintaining a different policy ethos.

Given the recent focus in TESS on Scandinavian comparisons ("Is this the end of Stockholm syndrome?", 29 November), it is also interesting that Scotland's Pisa scores were higher than those of Iceland, Norway and Sweden in all three criteria and higher than Denmark in all but maths (and then only by a matter of two points: 498 to 500).

Of course, there is much else besetting Scottish education that merits urgent action and we should not give the Pisa results undue value or attention - but the above points are worth noting for those who do.

Donald Gillies, Professor of education policy, York St John University.

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