Another SNP education failure: the OECD Review

The SNP’s decision to postpone releasing the OECD’s review into Curriculum for Excellence till after the elections in May 2021 has merely led to heightened speculation about its contents. The Socialist Educational Association Scotland has its view on what will either be missing or edited out. The SEAS’ views were not invited to participate in the Review. When we approached either Scottish Government or the OECD  our views were not sought as a contribution either.

The SEAS welcomes the review. Any curricular system benefits from a process of review. This is  not necessarily permanent revolution but some form of  built-in renewal and change. Such renewal should not have to wait for a crisis and the need for a new normal or even building back better. Planning for a decade long change would be beneficial till we renew once more.

Talking of the pandemic one of the key elements in discussing the new future is taking account of a year of radical change. In the year from last March to March 2021, in countries across the globe and particularly where the impact of the pandemic was poorly managed (i.e. here); society was effectively de-schooled. 

In part, for too many children and young people, this led to a “schooling loss” the impact of which is yet to be fully measured.  Some young people never missed attending a school building that much and with their teachers adjusted to forms of online teaching and learning.  Other children and their families found ways to engage in home learning that compensated for missing their school. 

All of this means that there has been a radical consciousness-raising exercise about the value of attending school education, or as a neighbour’s P1 child had it in early March 2021 being “back at proper school “.  The opportunity is being missed to re-engage with Scottish society about a renewal of Curriculum for Excellence drawing on the past two decades as well as the range of experiences over the past year. 

Below are the proposals from the first National Debate. In 2002, the Labour-led Scottish Executive Education Department launched a national debate on schools for the 21st century. The debate elicited over 1500 responses and it is estimated that 20,000 people took part. It is a shame that that the views of the Scottish people have not yet been put into practice fully two decades after they were proposed. 

It is not too late to engage in a National Renewal Debate to match the thousands of contacts and the model of civic participation in education policy-making from the national debate at the start of the century. We need a new future now shaped by the Scottish people not the OECD, not just the Parliament, definitely not the international advisors and not solely the professionals. It takes all of us to raise a child. 

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