The situation with Scottish education has become worrying under the current SNP administration. As someone who has been fortunate enough to have been accepted onto a teacher training course, I realise how difficult it has been this year for prospective teachers. Next year is not going to be any better. Alex Salmond has to shoulder the blame for this. There is no place to hide for the First Minister on this one.
The Scottish government recently announced that 40% of teacher training places was to be cut. In my own interview process for PGDE (S) History, it was 1 place per 6 applicants so God knows how difficult it is going to be in 2011. This comes against the backdrop of the introduction of a new curriculum, ‘The Curriculum for Excellence’ which had been intended to reform the way in which education was delivered to pupils. This curriculum has been controversial among unions and teachers alike, with an estimated 46% of teachers expressing concerns over it. From my own research on the topic, it certainly seems a bit of a ‘trying too hard’ initiative. The SNP are remaining rigorous in their defence of it though, despite feeling the need to replace the Education minister.
Fiona Hyslop certainly couldn’t have survive in her position as Education minister after failing to meet the manifesto commitment to drastically cut class sizes, a failure which has been admitted as being ‘too ambitious’ by her successor Mike Russell. The point being though, is that Fiona Hyslop has been a scapegoat in this whole sorry mess. Scottish education under the previous administration was doing well. Under Salmond’s government, it is being taken for granted. Alex Slamond must answer for this. Instead of inaccurate moans about the UK government’s role in this, Salmond should consider that he has overseen this all by himself. Instead he has prioritised his ‘national conversation’ about independence. I’m sure if we consider our needs, training teachers and improving our classrooms trumps constitutional change any day of the week!
Whatever you say about him, Tony Blair had it right. We must sum up our priorities in three words: Education, Education, Education.