I recently reviewed “Reforming Scotland Future: What future for Scottish Education”. The main suggested reforms from the author where
- Increased Autonomy: His conclusion was increased Automony would improve results, this, of course, is the current policy of the Uk government in relation to English schools but as Dylan Willaim points out in his book “Creating the Schools our Children Need” increased autonomy has little impact on increasing a nations educational standard. If given complete freedom some schools will perform exceptionally well ( Michaela in England being an example) and some will perform extremely poorly ( Al-Madinah school in England). The overall effect is a net-zero or negligible improvement in the overall educational attainment of a nation.
- Learning from experience: This improvement strikes with a sense of irony since the introduction of the curriculum for excellence educational experience in every international metric has fallen in Scotland and in internal metrics such as SSLN. His conclusion from the piece is it’s just not been implemented correctly this strikes me as a classic case of “new true Scotsman fallacy”, what evidence would be acceptable to show CfE has been a failure? We have respected international educationalist posting articles such as
Learning lessons from the failure of Scotland’s “Curriculum for Excellence” https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/learning-lessons-from-the-failure-of-scotlands-curriculum-for-excellence/
3. Technology is transforming education argument, this argument can be found in books of 19th-century philosophers. I have yet to read a study in which the use of technology in the classroom has significantly improved leaning. The mere presence of a mobile phone in the classroom led to 20% reduction in attention, concentration and performance ( Thorton 2014 Social Psychology) Schools that banned mobile phones received a 6.4% increase in their exam results going up to 14% for the previous lowest-achieving ( Beland and Murphy 2015). “laptops use can negatively affect performance on educational assessments , even or perhaps especially – when the computer is used for its intended function of easier note-taking” (Muller and Oppenheimer, 2014).
To transform Scottish education and close the achievement gap we need to focus on the areas that have been shown to work time and time again. Teaching for long term memory, spacing, interleaving retrieval, a strong knowledge-based coherent curriculum with a focus on mastery at each step, firm and loving discipline.
We should invest in teachers and in CPD, scrap failing skills-based curriculums and invite our poorest children to share in rich knowledge-based culture, giving them opportunities and life chances currently reserved only for they’re well off piers.