From stewartb In reply to Alasdair Macdonald [bottom of page]

I agree Alasdair about the politicised nature of this ‘stooshie’. In fact BBC Scotland and its education expert is missing a huge opportunity: there is enormous scope for doing some sustained, serious, considered and informative journalism as a public service in what is actually a hugely important, complex and challenging subject in terms of both policy and delivery. (As there is for BBC Scotland on health and social care!)

In 2015, at the request of the Scottish Government, the OECD published a review of Curriculum for Excellence ( ) As we are bombarded with negativity today, its worth remembering what the OECD concluded:

“The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is an important reform to put in place a coherent 3-18 curriculum. It privileges learning and a holistic understanding of what it means to be a young Scot growing up in today’s world.

At its heart are the four fundamental capacities: i) Successful Learners, ii) Confident Individuals, iii) Responsible Citizens, and, iv) Effective Contributors. Up to around age 15, the aim is to lay the foundations for lifetimes of learning through Broad General Education (BGE), incorporating primary and the first stages of secondary schooling but also early learning from age 3 onwards. BGE is the main object of this OECD review.

There is a great deal to be positive about in such a review: learners are enthusiastic and motivated, teachers are engaged and professional, and system leaders are highly committed. There has been intensive activity to create suites of support materials and a drive to address excessive bureaucracy. There have been extensive professional learning events organised throughout Scotland.

CfE has been anchored in consensus and a wider set of parallel reforms.”

This 2015 OECD report is no whitewash: it makes substantial criticisms and tough recommendations. But it was positive in terms of policy intent and achievements so far. The SG has recently commissioned the OECD to revisit its review of the Scottish school education system. The findings of the new research will be awaited with ‘impatience’.

SG ministers have indeed had a role to play along with their officials in designing and delivering Curriculum for Excellence but so have academic educationalists, local government education departments, the teacher unions, headteachers, school department heads and indeed to an extent all classroom teachers.

It is notable that Directors of Education in Scotland have begun to push back on the partisan negativity – see this from December 2019 (

‘It’s guff that Scottish education is terrible’ – Scottish education directors publish dossier in bid to challenge the narrative of failure in Scottish education”

From Alasdair Macdonald:

On the evening Radio Scotland news programme this theme continued, with the innuendo of Mr McEnaney’s initial piece of flummery being the headline. The programme interviewed a Professor of Education at the University of Glasgow and Mr L.Flanagan, General Secretary of the EIS. The Professor was asked, “Is Scottish education getting worse?” To which her answer was, “No” and, in a long reply, indicated that she believed that there had been significant improvements. Mr Flanagan was not asked the same question, because to say “yes’ would have begged questions about the role played by teachers in this ‘decline’. (Of course the BBC would not ask such a question). He was pretty circumspect in his responses. Had he taken the line Mr McEnaney had taken, he would have been perceived by many of his members as being in cahoots with the Tories.

Clearly, this stooshie had nothing really to do with education, but as a very strong attack by the BBC on the SG, given the three other damning stories that accompanied this. It also raises questions about the motivations of Mr McEnaney.