Compress it and shift it to the right


I was listening to someone recently who was talking about educational attainment in Scotland and the need to close the gap between our lowest attaining children and the rest – our 20%. This goal has taken on a mantra-like term in Scottish education – although much easier to say than to do.

The additional comment was about getting some “stretch into our system” – in other words how do we extend the upper end of ability? – particularly in maths and science in order that we may compete on an international basis.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague about Deming’s principle of reducing variation which is something which has driven me for many years.

However, when I argue for reducing variation it is sometimes taken as a willingness to sacrifice high level performance in order to reduce the instances of low performance – however, I don’t see the two as being in conflict as I believe you can “compress it and shift it to the right” – if only it was that simple!!!!