Here’s tae us, wha’s like us? Well actually……….


I was approached last week by a producer for the BBC Radio 4 programme “Beyond Westminster” .  The programme was setting out to explore the generally accepted perception (at least in Scotland) that Scottish education is better than English education.

I don’t think I gave the response she was looking for when I expressed the opinion that we have much to learn from the education system in England and that we ignore practice South of the Border at our peril.

Unfortunately the programme was very disappointing as I felt it deliberately set out to provoke controversy – which is a pity as Sheena McDonald is one of my favourite presenters.  The panel was composed of Professor Brian Boyd; James Stanfield ; and a parent from the Black Isle. I thought Brian approached it in his usual thoughtful manner and recognised many strengths in the English system. The parent was also interesting, albeit that her perspective was confined to what she experiences in her own school – which is not necessarily representative of what happens elsewhere in Scotland. However, to pick up on an Olympic metaphor, James Stanfield never managed to get out of the shallow end of the pool!! 

I suppose in half and hour it’s only possible to scratch the surface of any issue – but this didn’t even get near the issue. There are so many good things about English education that could have been mentioned as being of interest to Scottish education but the debate was dominated by a single issue representation from James Stanfield who could not get beyond the need for more choice in the Scottish system.  As I’ve recently been exploring on this Learning Log there are many interesting features of the English system – particularly in relation to the local management of schools and their use of data but James Stanfield’s arguments lacked any depth nor did he have any capacity to cross reference his arguments to any other issues – a real missed opportunity!

Nevertheless, I hope to visit a couple of English local authorities in coming session to find out more about how they are encouraging schools to develop divergent systems.



2 thoughts on “Here’s tae us, wha’s like us? Well actually……….

  1. Good summary and your research into Miers and Stanfield got further than mine. Very interesting – it just confirmed for me that the programme was only interested in trying to provoke a cheap controversy – as opposed to a worthwhile dialogue about an important issue. BBC Radio 4 let themselves down on this one.

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