Scotland

'Bog standard' Scottish schools criticised

  • 5 January 2012
  • From the section Scotland

The Commission on School Reform has urged Scottish schools to abandon what it called the "bog standard" model of comprehensive education.

It has drawn attention to what it said was a culture of complacency in many schools.

The commission has blamed government and inspectors for their approach to schools.

Education Secretary Mike Russell has responded that schools are already benefiting from new freedoms.

And teachers' leaders said they were shocked by the description, which did not take into account exceptional efforts by staff in individual schools.

The commission, which was launched in November, is headed by Keir Bloomer - one of the architects of the curriculum for excellence and a former leader of the education directors in Scotland's local authorities.

Ross Martin, an advisor to the commission, said it would benefit pupils if schools were encouraged to do what they thought would best meet the needs of children in their catchment area.

"The key aspect for the commission is to identify where innovation is already happening," he said.

'Hard work'

Mr Martin said they wanted to find out "where we've moved away from that old template mentality of the bog standard comprehensive".

He said it was a misconception that Scottish schools had not innovated, and cited Govan High in Glasgow as one example.

The school has been offering pupils more chances to take vocational courses, which had seen above average numbers securing jobs after they left school.

Much of the commission's criticism has been rejected by the education secretary.

He said: "I don't think we have bog standard schools in Scotland.

"We have some schools that aren't performing as well as they should and aren't ambitious enough.

"But Curriculum for Excellence has made an enormous difference to Scotland's schools and we have very good teachers, very good head teachers, very good schools that are delivering lots of different things."

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Schools Association, said she did not recognise the description of "bog standard schools".

"I find it shocking that anyone can make this kind of comment about all of the schools in Scotland without having the evidence to support it, without taking into account the enormous hard work that people across the country do to educate our young," she said.

"I don't just mean teachers there. I mean support staff and parents.

"We all work exceptionally hard to improve the education of our young people and the last thing we need is someone sniping from the sidelines.

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