Publications

Education a key battleground in debate on Scottish independence

Education a key battleground in debate on Scottish independence

The Scottish and English education systems have always been separate. Knox’s aim of a school in every parish was never comprehensively achieved but the concept of education accessible to all children irrespective of family wealth has long been part of the Scottish educational tradition. Scottish universities were […]

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Snake oil and ladders

Snake oil and ladders

The assumption is often made that good schools always have good leaders and poor leaders always create poor schools. A recent seminar in Glasgow addressed the issue, asking what leadership is and how we can ensure good leadership. Former headteacher Danny Murphy insisted that leadership had been […]

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The long road from Ibrox to Brechin

The long road from Ibrox to Brechin

The following piece appears as a chapter in Alan Bissett’s and Alasdair McKillop’s excellent collection of essays, ‘Born Under a Union Flag’, published by Luath. The book explores cultural and religious identity in Scotland, how these identities relate to football and their impact on the current constitutional […]

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The teaching of creationism

The teaching of creationism

Scottish educationalists have always looked to England and English education. We look for whatever is best in the English system and seek to avoid its occasional errors. Recently, we have watched much that emanates from the English Department for Education with trepidation, especially if it directly articulates […]

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Are you on your staff’s side?

Are you on your staff’s side?

“At a time of great transition in our profession, many teachers appear to be at their breaking point. In my home state, a teacher recently published a letter to the editor of our largest newspaper, explaining why she is thinking of quitting her job. How can leaders […]

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Kicking the hornet’s nest

Kicking the hornet’s nest

There’s a flurry of debate in Scottish education over standards. The suggestion is that they are being dumbed down. The surprise is that the debate’s catalyst was a letter to the press from a school student. S4 student, Flora Scarabello, wrote to The Herald last month (on […]

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The case for grammar

The case for grammar

I teach an adult evening class in formal writing skills. It is for learners who are under-confident about the daily writing tasks essential in work or other situations. This is the second term I’ve delivered the class. A fascinating pattern is emerging. In both classes the composition […]

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A bureaucracy working group?!

A bureaucracy working group?!

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was initially welcomed by countless teachers. It has increasingly been mired in disputes. Workload and resource issues have particularly enraged teachers, who are reeling from reduced funding, new examinations, faculty systems and the abandonment of traditional subject departments. Against this background the […]

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The structure of learning

The structure of learning

Hard economic times have an impact on schools, usually, but not inevitably, for the worse. A recent conference on the links between learning and the spaces in which it occurs, illustrated innovative responses to keeping our school estate in working order, to replacing buildings no longer fit-for-purpose, […]

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Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on the continuing gaps between the educational attainment of our poorest and richest children has emerged at the same time as the Scottish launch of Living on the Edge, John Smyth’s and Terry Wrigley’s critique of poverty, class and schooling (publisher: Peter […]

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