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What's going wrong with Scottish education??

(478 Posts)
TinfoilHattie Wed 10-May-17 12:31:08

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-39856284

Obviously very tempting to start another SNP bashing thread and I'm pretty clear that the blame for this lies at their door. It's shocking that performance is getting worst, not better and that less than half of S2s are performing well or very well in writing. It's all very well Swinney standing up and saying that it's not good enough but WHY is it not good enough and WHAT is he going to do about it?

Is it Curriculum for Excellence? Are the tests unrealistic? Funding? Changing expectations?

It's all very interesting for me as I have children in P4, P7 and S2 and those are the years which are tested. My kids are doing fine and I have no worries about them, but we're a family which values education and encourages reading. I do worry though about my daughter who spelled her new school as "Acadmay" and it wasn't corrected by the teacher. confused

So what's going wrong and how do we put it right?

CrystalQueen Wed 10-May-17 13:03:30

I would describe myself as reasonably well informed - I try to keep up with current affairs. To me a big part of the problem is that no-one knows there is a problem! I'm sick of watching the parochial excuse for TV news that is Reporting Scotland with its stories of dogs at the Parliament and how many midges there will be this summer. Frankly I have no idea what's going on in Scottish education. I know far more about what's going on in England.

I was shocked when my daughter's teacher (P4) told me that two thirds of her class were poor readers. However this would appear to tally with this report.

LittleCandle Wed 10-May-17 13:09:05

If teachers weren't expected to teach kids everything, including things that the parents should be teaching them but aren't, and concentrated on reading, writing and counting, adding in other things once they are competent in these skills, the problems would vanish. However, parents want kids taught more and more and more and something has to suffer. To fit in science and languages (both vital, but not in P1 or 2), music and PE etc, the basics aren't given the time they deserve. Teach kids about subjects, not how to pass exams.

Bejazzled Wed 10-May-17 13:11:09

I was appalled when I read the Numeracy report earlier in the year, and even more so now. The attainment table at the bottom of the report makes for horrific reading. Imagine if it wasn't our governments priority, just as well they are so focussed on it eh? 🙄😡

Bejazzled Wed 10-May-17 13:13:36

However, parents want kids taught more and more and more and something has to suffer

I think parents would be more than happy if teachers were allowed to concentrate on reading, writing, numeracy. Curriculum for Excellence wasn't designed or devised by parents!

TinfoilHattie Wed 10-May-17 13:17:09

I do also think that some Head teachers go a bit "rogue". Our Head has been in position for about 20 years and will not listen to suggestions put forward by parents, it's her way or the highway.

Every year the P6/7 children embark on this massive Christmas performance thing which takes at least 4 hours a week every week from the October break to Christmas. They're expected to fit in mindfulness training, and however much PE a week, and the Stirling Mile, and and First Minister's Reading Challenge, and school trips, and music, and French, and learning poetry for Burns night, and pupil groups for eco, sports, traffic, pupil council etc etc etc.

I also think class size is a HUGE issue. My P7 daughter is in a class of 31. That's outrageous. Part of that is the Head accepting lots of placing requests, but the upshot is that an average child like mine who isn't disruptive, doesn't particularly struggle and isn;t an academic superstar gets away with writing "acadmay" because the teacher has no time to correct her.

YerAWizardHarry Wed 10-May-17 13:18:04

I'm doing Highers right now as a mature student 6 years after previously doing them at school and they are MUCH easier now with around 1/3rd of final grades being coursework. There are also much less questions e.g. when I did Higher English in 2010 I had to write 2 essays and answer 50 marks of close reading. This year I have to write 1 essay and there's half the amount of close reading questions

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 10-May-17 13:18:51

I think the curriculum for excellence is a good thing and education shouldn't just be the three Rs. The problem is it has not been fully/properly put in place. It was this really awesome cradle.to grave, education for life idea. I think it is quite likely it has been watered down in implementation.

I suspect that the CofE may be only a minor cause.

There is a known correlation between poverty and poor results for example, and poverty is increasing.

Also as PPs have said there has been a gradual shift in what parents expect from schools, and an increase in children who need greater support in schools.

It's not a simple issue at all unfortunately.

Arkadia Wed 10-May-17 13:38:33

I am sure it is not a simple/single issue, nor do I know where the problem lies, however, something MUST be done for sure. These facts have been known for some time (last year the maths report came out and the results were very similar), however nobody seems interested, least of all the SNP, who, let's not forget, I have been in power (no coalition) for the past 10+ years.

In any case, and this is MY experience, at our school the parent is not to be trusted with information on their child education. And I mean it literally... I have NO IDEA what my kids do at school, nor do I know how they are faring. When parents' night comes we are always told that everything is fine and that's it. I have asked repeadetly what is the curriculum, but to this day I have not been told. So, we just started doing or own things at home and never mind what they do at school. The way I see it, at school they learn to socialize and to do teamwork - both very important. Academic stuff, for now, is done at home.
Ah, I have one in P1 and one in P3.

TheLuminaries Wed 10-May-17 13:44:59

Education has declined at my daughter's school. We are in Perth and Kinross and the school my girls are at can no longer run a functioning English department. My daughter in Y3 has not had an English teacher for most of the year. The head fobbed my off, so I contacted the Education committee - many councillors expressed their concerns and support but the (SNP) convener didn't even acknowledge my letter! So the local authority and heads are not being held to account and there is a lack of will to even bother about providing something as basic as an English teacher. It is a national disgrace but I think most parents have no idea how badly their children are being failed.

Bejazzled Wed 10-May-17 14:02:28

It's such an important issue. CfE might have originally been a great idea but its design and implementation have been a mess, I think we are now on the 3rd iteration in 4 years if I recall correctly? I'm sure diluting the attainment of vital reading, writing and numeracy skills in order to promote less key skills (Scots language anyone) wasn't part of the original plan.

The SNP promise of smaller class sizes in P1 and P2 would have gone some way to helping teachers but that didn't happen and was swept under the carpet very quickly.

trixymalixy Wed 10-May-17 14:13:28

It's such a crying shame. Scottish education used to be something to be proud of.

Why did they try to fix something that wasn't broken?!

TinfoilHattie Wed 10-May-17 14:18:04

Don't believe the "poverty is increasing" line - my parents are both teachers and they trained in the 1960s in some of the most deprived areas of Glasgow. True, grinding poverty with tenement homes which have long been demolished and no money at all.

I'm not saying there are no poor people - but saying there are lots more now than 50 years ago is just not true.

Arkadia Wed 10-May-17 14:20:58

Also I don't believe that England, proportionally, is that much richer (or is it?), but still they have not registered a similar decline.

TheLuminaries Wed 10-May-17 14:34:17

CfE is universally despised by all secondary teachers I know (loads!). It is seen as making the secondary years too much like primary - too much 'design a poster' not enough academic rigour. So while it may have been nice for the primary years, it was always flawed for secondary. Lack of investment, shambolic implementation and lack of accountability have compounded the utter mess.

My oldest went through secondary pre CfE and had a reasonale experience, similar to mine in a large comprehensive high school. It is for the younger one, going through CfE that the wheels have come off totally. I have even been considering private and I am utterly morally and politically opposed to that, so that is how badly I feel she has been failed. But going private won't fix the broken system and that is the issue.

QueenLaBeefah Wed 10-May-17 14:38:08

Just scrap Currivulum for Excellence. None of my teaching friends like it as it is unworkable.

The drop is standards is frightening. As an employer hiring 16yr+ the drop in numeracy and literacy is very marked. Most new teen employees seem to have an inability to retain information and rely far too much on google.

TinfoilHattie Wed 10-May-17 14:39:25

I have to admit that as the parent of a S2 child who is shortly moving into S3, I'm not a fan of the broad curriculum until the end of S3.

I believe that the problem lies with the divided loyalties of the SNP.

They say that education is their first priority, but that simply is not true. Their first priority is independence, and always will be, until they get it. They need to concentrate on the day job, but that is not going to happen.

OOAOML Wed 10-May-17 15:24:04

I think it is quite difficult to pinpoint the problems, but I do think the implantation of CfE has not been handled well (and that covers the previous Labour administration as well, as the policy dates back that far).

I also have some concerns about the quality of teaching staff - and I say that as someone who freely admits it is a job I couldn't do. Some of my children's teachers have very poor grammar/spelling, and the quality of primary teacher seems to vary a lot. My daughter is now in S2 and I think her P6/7 teaching left a lot to be desired - I do believe there should be a rounded education, but there are basic facts she doesn't know that I'd expect her to, and I'm not sure she needed to spend such a large chunk of time working on the end of term play. Some of the maths that my son does now in P6 is stuff that she didn't do until high school - why is there no check on the standard that classes are working even at cluster level?

I know when I was at primary school we got very little grammar and had to learn a lot of it at high school to help us with French and German. Something like that is going to cascade through the years, with teachers my age potentially not feeling comfortable teaching it.

Our primary are very resistant to any criticism or parental involvement - they discount poor numeracy results with the excuse 'we're a small school'. They're not particularly, they've grown a lot and are presumably either trying to palm parents off or just don't understand percentages. They have also failed to organise more as the school has grown (which happened very rapidly thanks to the council closing down other local schools) and pride themselves on 'muddling through'. I don't want to suggest more centralisation, but I think more should be done to monitor standards at council level and cluster level, because talking to people with children in other schools within the city there is a big difference and it seems very much the luck of the draw.

BelleTheSheepdog Wed 10-May-17 15:43:59

Arkadia on your point : Even before CfE I referred our children's primary as the black box of education! When things are working well this is not such a problem of course.

aliceinwanderland Wed 10-May-17 15:56:51

I wasn't at all surprised to read this. DD1 is in the top set for literacy in her P5 class at an hmie rated "very good"school and her spelling is truly dreadful. She also had real problems learning to read. (We are also a very bookish house ). She has been assessed for additional support but that gave a mixed view. But the main issue is that the scool has a policy of not correcting spellings. So she really has no idea how spell a lot of words. Her current form teacher who agrees she is behind is not taking that approach but it will take a long time to undo all the incorrect words she has learnt. And if she is in the top set I can't imagine how the kids are doing in the other groups. We are also having to do extra practice at home and we will be getting a tutor next scool - which being on decent salaries we can afford. And people wonder about the attainment gap. Overall the school is great for lots of other reasons but I think a bit more rigour would be good for most kids

BelleTheSheepdog Wed 10-May-17 16:14:47

It was never an awesome idea.

In fact it is misnamed according to the educationalists themselves as it isn't actually a curriculum, apparently!

How's that for instilling confidence in the Scottish educational establishment.

BelleTheSheepdog Wed 10-May-17 16:15:38

I don't think you can entirely blame the SNP either, it was begun before their time.

Y0uCann0tBeSer10us Wed 10-May-17 16:16:55

This drop in standards all sounds pretty terrifying, and I'm genuinely very sacred for my children's future. I really hope someone gets on top of this soon (and I agree that if education is the SNP's top priority I'd hate to see the mess they'd make of something that wasn't).

alice I'm especially struck by your comment that your child's school has a policy of not correcting spellings. How can they possibly justify that? Surely these things are not open to interpretation, and by not teaching children how to spell correctly they are simply hobbling them for life as they'll always be competing with people who can spell, and so come across a lot better in job applications etc. I am aware that often mistakes go uncorrected, but I have to admit I'd assumed it was because the teachers themselves had poor literacy (which, sadly, also seems relatively common).

Arkadia Wed 10-May-17 16:24:48

Alice and you,
Same here, re: spelling. Very rarely has my DD1 been corrected (and her spelling IS awful).
Indeed, in the past she was actively encouraged to write phonetically or in whichever way she saw fit, and we haven't moved much from there.
Belle, they have solely in charge for TEN years!

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