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Beyond Westminster
Saturdays 11:00-11:30
(when Parliament is in recess)
A look at politics outside the bubble.
Programme details
16 August 2008
Listen to this programme in full
Westminster as seen from the South Bank.
Sheena McDonald asks if it's true that Scotland's education system is the best in Britain.
There’s long been a myth that Scotland’s schools are better than England's – a comparison that's part of a centuries' old rivalry between the two nations. But is it true?

Like their Welsh and Northern Irish neighbours, England and Scotland are busy making reforms to their education systems. Unlike England, Scotland is working on making its system as flexible as possible, giving more power to local authorities, schools and teachers.

This autumn sees the rolling out of the much heralded Curriculum for Excellence, a document that enshrines the concept of autonomous teaching. But will these changes help children who are still leaving school without any qualifications? The programme airs just as Scottish pupils prepare to start their new school year, shortly after the Highers results and just on the tail of the A Level results.

Sheena McDonald is in Edinburgh to debate the issue and she talks with Pete Mayne, a Maths teacher who taught in England for several years before moving to Scotland to start a family. He's happier teaching in Scotland and is keen his children are educated in the state system north of the border.

Sheena also meets Linda Croxford from Edinburgh University, who’s studied the comparisons between Scottish and English schools for many years and thinks Scotland comes out on top. Sheena asks Tom Miers if this is true. Last year, as Executive Director of the Policy Institute, he commissioned a study on whether Scottish schools are still good and found that standards and results are slipping behind England, perhaps for the first time.

To debate it, Sheena gathers education experts from north and south of the border Professor Brian Boyd from Strathclyde University and James Stanfield, author of the report How Good Are Scotland's Schools from Newcastle, and Sarah Atkin, and English parent – who, though happy to be educating her daughter in Scotland, is still concerned that Scotland won’t examine its shortcomings.

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