The most important issue facing a nation and its future is education standards and expectations. For many decades and for far too long, Scotland’s schools and teachers have been trained to teach to the ‘lower average’ – rather than the ‘higher average’. This matters greatly for all pupils attainments.
I am a former primary teachers and my three grown up children went through the State system in the 90s and 00s. They all did well and went on to university because of our parental input and high expectations. As parents we encouraged reading, number, music, art and being inquisitive and enjoying learning new skills for their own sake. Learning new skills and being challenged is one of the greatest joys in life! Personal development through art, music and sport is also crucial.
What we discovered at school though was a general ‘low expectations’ by teachers (although not all) and to attain good grades they didn’t really have to work hard until second year university! Teachers in Scotland have been taught to teach to ability groups for decades now, but is this best for every subject? These educational theories were pursued under Labour and the Tories – not the SNP!
The more successful Nordic methods teach children in mixed ability groups and after high quality early years education have ‘high expectations’ for all children. This is also similar to Montessori methods and mentoring by the able and older pupils. Weren’t the old fashioned class lessons mixed ability!
Most of education happens at home of course and well before a child is five. So my suggestions are – Parenting classes, investment in quality early years education and increasing teachers expectations so they teach to the higher average with a focus on personal development. .
Headteacher Jane Lunnon says,
“I worked incredibly hard, moving up to head of English and deputy head. Anthony Seldon was one of the great professional privileges of my life – incredibly difficult as well. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly , but he showed me that if you have high expectations, people do miraculous thing!”