‘Everyone’s Future: lessons from fifty years of Scottish comprehensive schooling’ – some key quotes.

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Some quotes from the book:

By 1997, there was widespread civic acceptance in Scotland, confirmed by responses to the 2002 National Debate, of the local authority comprehensive six-year school, albeit modulated by parental choice, as the best model for state secondary school education (Munn et al., 2004). This was in marked contrast to England, where in 2001 Alastair Campbell, the Labour prime minister’s spokesman, famously predicted that ‘the day of the bog-standard comprehensive school is over’, thus associating comprehensive schools with mediocrity (Clare and Jones, 2001). There was no appetite in Scotland for ‘opting out’. The focus was on making local authority schools more ‘effective’.p23

CfE is, in reality, a curriculum for 3–15. The previous examination system, which had dominated the 15–18 school curriculum, with Standard Grade and Higher Still courses running both in sequence and in parallel, was simplified by the new exam arrangements, but there was no attempt to overhaul, or even subject to critical scrutiny, many of the existing irregularities of curriculum design and practice in the Senior Phase. p31

Comprehensive education in Scotland has promoted equality…..Equality of opportunity has been expanded through the provision of a broader range of curriculum options, abolishing overt discrimination by gender and extending the range of post-compulsory pathways …Comprehensive reorganization removed some barriers, such as school selection and the more divisive aspects of curriculum and examination systems. But it did not abolish wider social inequalities, or the selective function of schooling, the main factors restricting equality of outcome….Comprehensive education in Scotland has, however, promoted greater equality of value. Pupils who would once have been marginalized as ‘non-certificate’ are now full members of the moral community of the school. p197

Improvement needs to be defined in terms of all of the aims of a comprehensive system.
Current models of improvement – nationally and internationally – are dominated by comparisons of pupil and school performance in standardized tests. While a comprehensive school system that aims to provide a broad general education for all of its young people and which values them equally needs to define improvement in terms of performance, it should also include a wider set of factors involved in balancing liberty, equality, and fraternity in fair and just communities. So too should it include a greater range of contributions to civic health than those that define the individual solely in relation to ‘performance’ in pre-specified competitive tasks. System improvement needs to be specified and evaluated across a wider range of outcomes than test performance alone.  p203

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