In Scotland, An Educational Gap Between ‘Haves and Have-Nots’


The difference in the quality of education for Scotland's haves and have nots closely mirrors that of the United States. Many well to do Scottish children are getting an excellent education, while the poorer ones struggle through school.

One in five students at Scotland's richer schools achieved three or more A-levels. Fewer than one in 30 of Scotland's students at poor schools did the same, reports Ben Riley-Smith for The Daily Telegraph.

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Tory party, said that this huge difference is a disgrace and that the local councils that are in charge of collecting trash bins should not be the same ones that oversee children's education. She is quoted by Riley-Smith as saying:

"I've never understood that the body that takes out your bins – councils – is in charge of teaching our children. I don't understand why there's only one model for schools across the whole of the country. I don't understand why there's this resistance in Scotland to looking at other countries [to see] what matters and what works better."

Davidson also wants to look at other countries for school models to try to find something that works better for the Scottish educational system, writes Riley-Smith. She warns the Scottish against being "too proud" to adopt other countries' school systems, especially England, with whom Scotland has had a centuries' long feud.

Ms. Davidson believes that no solution to Scotland's educational issues should be taken off the table "just because they are happening in England". She also believes that real teachers and educators should have more power to make decisions for the Scottish education system than the local councils do. Riley-Smith quotes her as saying:

"We need to have greater autonomy within our schools, our head teachers need to have more power over how we teach pupils, because not all children learn the same and not all children are taught the same."

A Scottish Tory spokesman said that the Tory political party is a proponent of permitting schools to "opt out" of local authority control. It was also looking at four or five different education models, including that of free schools, from across the world's different national educational examples, says Riley-Smith.

Also in Scotland, many parents are calling for an educational tribunal to handle their complaints regarding their children's education, reports Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.

Under Scottish law, parents or student can complain directly to the government about how the school or education authority is being run and any complaints they might have. If there is a reasonable complaint, ministers can draw up an order through the Court of Session, making councils accountable.

The main opponent of this law, though, is the government, says Denholm. It has suggested doing away with the right of appeal to ministers. The government argues that it takes too much time and wants complaints to be heard by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

They describe the complaint process as slow and painful for families who are just trying to get the best education for their kids.

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