Scotland begs to differ, Mr Blair

4th November 2005 at 00:00
There could be no clearer evidence of the divergent thinking about education reform than the package for England unveiled by the Prime Minister last week, and the response of the Education Minister for Scotland (page four).

Yet the direction of travel, as ministers are fond of describing it, is couched in remarkably similar language - empowering parents, freeing schools from central controls and improving standards.

The differences, however, are rather more stark than the similarities. The agenda in Scotland is strongly driven by the desire to make a difference in the classroom (whatever views there may be about the detail) - and, in that respect, it is firmly in line with the prognosis offered this week by President Clinton's former adviser (page eight). In England, by contrast, there is still a constant urge to dig up the foundations. Even one of the Prime Minister's former advisers has said that success comes with supporting what happens in the classroom, rather than getting hung up on structures.

England has extremes of performance which will always tempt politicians to opt for radical answers - before they are reined in by educational realities. Scotland, however, retains a greater cohesion which prizes community. Mrs Thatcher was once quoted as saying that "there is no such thing as society". Mr Blair may in effect be saying that, in educational terms, "there is no such thing as community". Scotland begs to differ.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today