What one thing would you change about Scottish schools?

A Glasgow teacher is to explore the past, present and future of Scottish education in a new project

Henry Hepburn

Scottish education: What would you change about the schools system in Scotland?

What would you do if you had a magic wand to change one thing about Scottish education overnight?

A Glasgow-based teacher and writer is asking people throughout the country to say what they would do, as part of a new project.

James McEnaney, who works in further education after previously teaching English in schools, is writing a new book that will be split into three broad sections: a brief history of Scottish education; what has happened in Scottish education during the coronavirus pandemic; and what could happen next.


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His book, the publication of which is due to coincide with the start of the 2021-22 school year, is expected to conclude with a chapter in which people are asked what they would do if they could change one thing about Scottish education overnight. Mr McEnaney said the idea was sparked by a September 2020 Tes Scotland tweet, in which we asked that question.

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Mr McEnaney has already received over 100 replies since tweeting at the weekend, asking for ideas to explore in his as-yet-untitled book. Many respondents have cited smaller class sizes or reduced class-contact time, while other ideas included more time for free play in schools and a better focus on schools' outdoor spaces. There have also been a number of replies from parents of pupils with additional support needs, while potential reforms in further education have also been raised.

Mr McEnaney said his book would include a "sober, analytical approach" in tackling issues such as the history of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and what data from Pisa (the Programme for International Student Assessment) really tells us about Scottish education.

However, when it comes to the performance of national education bodies and the Scottish government during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr McEnaney  who, in particular, has been highly critical of how exams and qualifications have been handled in the past year  said he intended to be "unflinchingly honest".

He will also look at what Scotland can learn from successful ideas in other countries, such as the use of technology in Estonian educationteacher sabbaticals in Australia and the compulsory learning of Irish Gaelic in schools in the Republic of Ireland. There will also be an extensive look at why Finland appears to be so successful in education.

Mr McEnaney also said that the book would be a short, jargon-free read and accessible to those who do not work in Scottish education.

Ideas on what could be changed in Scottish schools can be shared with Mr McEnaney here.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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