While we are constrained
by copyright regulations meantime to publish, as pdf files, two of the
most comprehensive volumes ever written about the history of Scottish
education up to 1969, we feel it important to alert scholars and
interested readers to the availability of the following volumes in
libraries, or for purchase,
THE HISTORY OF SCOTTISH
Volume One: From the beginning to 1872
SEN 340 07157 5
THE HISTORY OF SCOTTISH
Volume Two: From 1872 to the present day
SEN 340 09548 2
James Scotland, Principal of Aberdeen College of Education (1969)
University of London Press Ltd.
St Paul’s House, Warwick Lane, London, EC4
The value the above
publications can be gauged initially not only from their extensive
bibliographies, but also from this quotation from the first paragraph of
the Preface, common to each of the two volumes.
“It is more than forty
years since Alexander Morgan published his Rise and Progress of Scottish
Education. John Kerr’s Scottish Education, School and University came
out before the First World War. And these are the only two histories of
education in this country which may be reasonably claimed to be
complete. …… ….. There seems …. to be a place for a new comprehensive
history, and this book attempts to fill it.”
Recommended Bibliography for the study of the History of Scottish
In December 2016 I looked at Education as a result of the International
Pisa scores. The influential Pisa rankings, run by the OECD, are based
on tests taken by 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries.
I was interested in the
Pisa Scores and noted the press comments in Scotland on how we're seeing
a decline in our rankings. I was asked how Canada did and confess
I didn't know but have since found out that...
Canada ranked 2nd for
Reading, 7th for Science and 10th for Maths.
Australia Ranked 16th for Reading, 14th for Science and 24th for Maths
UK Ranked 22nd for Reading, 15th for Science and 27th for Maths
USA Ranked 24th for Reading, 25th for Science and 40th for Maths.
Singapore was overall in first place.
Scotland trails behind
England and Northern Ireland - recording its worst results in these Pisa
The small Asian country
Singapore focused relentlessly on education as a way of developing its
economy and raising living standards.
And from being among the
world's poorest, with a mix of ethnicities, religions and languages,
Singapore has overtaken the wealthiest countries in Europe, North
America and Asia to become the number one in education.
Prof Sing Kong Lee,
vice-president of Nanyang Technological University, which houses
Singapore's National Institute of Education, said a key factor had been
the standard of teaching.
heavily in a quality teaching force - to raise up the prestige and
status of teaching and to attract the best graduates," said Prof Lee.
The country recruits its
teachers from the top 5% of graduates in a system that is highly
All teachers are trained
at the National Institute of Education, and Prof Lee said this single
route ensured quality control and that all new teachers could
"confidently go through to the classroom".
This had to be a
consistent, long-term approach, sustained over decades, said Prof Lee.
There is an article this
week about Scottish Education in the Scottish Review which you can read
Scotland's scores for
maths, reading and science all declined in the latest set of Programme
for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures
Bet your house on the
teachers. The OECD's education guru Andreas Schleicher has a
catchphrase: "No education system can be better than the quality of its
teachers". And this week's TIMSS rankings have the same message -
success is inseparably linked to the supply of good quality teachers.
Whatever headline-grabbing wheezes might be deployed by education
ministers, it all comes down to investing in teachers.
Long-term planning in a
short-term world. It might take 10 years before changes in an education
system make any positive difference in global rankings. That's not much
of an incentive for the fleeting life-span of ministerial office. A
recent reforming education minister in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires
entered office as the third minister in 12 days. But the big message
from global rankings is that what is needed is consistency and
It's not a knockout
competition. Education league tables are based on the proportion of
young people reaching some benchmark of ability. The winners will be
those who assume that everyone should cross that finishing line,
including the poorest - and that is a distinguishing feature of the top
Asian systems. They put the best teachers with the weakest pupils to
make sure everyone gets to a basic standard. In contrast, much of the
western approach to education is more like the Grand National, with the
expectation that very few of the horses starting the race will still be
there at the finish. And the rankings reflect this fundamental
I also noted a news item
on the BBC called "Life Chances are set by the age of 3" which I believe
was a 40 year study in New Zealand where they followed 3 year olds
through their life. They found that 3 year olds that had problems
went on to be by far the highest percentage in prison, the highest
number on social security and the highest number with health issues and
so on. They thus conclude that the early years of a child's life
is by far the most important time.