More Scottish school leavers stay on in education

People sitting in lecture theatreImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMore than 40% of Scottish school leavers went on to higher education in 2016/17

The percentage of Scotland’s school leavers staying on in education has continued to rise while the numbers going into training continue to fall.

New figures showed the percentage signing up for university last year was 40.7%, up from 37.8% six years ago.

A total of 26.8% opted for a college course – up 0.1% on 2011/12.

However, the percentage of school leavers going into training has steadily fallen from 4.5% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2016.

According to official statistics, there has been a year-on-year reduction in the percentage of leavers who are unemployed and seeking work or training.

In 2011/12, there were 8.25% who fell into this category, while in 2016/17 that figure was recorded at 4.5%.

The latest figures show that almost a quarter, 22%, have taken up employed work, down slightly on the previous year but up by 2.2% on 2011/12 figures.

School leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements are classified as having a “positive destination”.

The statisticians also say that for school leavers living in the most deprived areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 83.9% in 2011/12 to 89.6% in 2016/17.

For school leavers living in Scotland’s most affluent areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 95.1% in 2011/12 to 96.6% in 2016/17.

This latest data was recorded in October 2017, approximately three months after the youngsters left school.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is vital that every young person leaving school has the opportunity to make the choice that is right for them – whether that be university or college, training or a job.

“Today’s statistics show a record proportion of leavers in an initial positive destination and, in particular, a welcome increase to another record in those leavers from the most deprived backgrounds going on to a positive destination.”

‘Pursue radical measures’

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the statistics showed that the Scottish government had made “very little progress” on closing the attainment gap.

Their education spokeswoman, Liz Smith, said: “The SNP has completely failed to enable the most disadvantaged children to have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts when they leave school.

“Higher education is not the only choice for school leavers, but these figures demonstrate that students from poorer backgrounds are much less likely to take this path.

“This has to change, the SNP must pursue the radical measures necessary to make that change.”

Government’s planned test for four-year-olds will be ‘damaging’, education experts warn

The Independent online

The Government’s plans for a new test for four-year-olds will be “damaging to young children”, parents, teachers and psychotherapists have warned.

A coalition of campaigners has called on the Department for Education to abandon its proposals to spend almost £10m on a new baseline assessment for children at the start of Reception.

The new report, launched in parliament yesterday, warns that “enormous damage” can be done to children when adults believe that children’s ability is fixed and can be defined at a young age.

It adds that children “will be pushed into a world of high-stakes assessment” under the government’s plans, which is says is at “odds with young children’s learning and development.”

The More than a Score coalition – which represents 18 education and parents’ organisations – unveiled the dossier at a meeting hosted by shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin.

The early years experts argue that the assessment, due to be introduced in 2020, will add “another stressor to the existing load” and will “limit playful, creative, and intellectual experiences”.

The test is proposed for the first few weeks of Reception should be abandoned and replaced with teacher assessments throughout the year, campaigners argue.

Alison Roy, a lead child psychotherapist, told The Independent: “If children are being tested before they have established secure relationships with their teachers then it will not be an effective assessment of their capacity to learn or their academic ability.

“I think it is a huge risk as it could make children think school is a hostile place and a judgemental place, rather than a place where they can explore and learn about themselves and their world.”

On the proposed baseline assessment, confirmed by the Government in September last year, Ms Roy added: “I think it is putting undue stress on little children. It is not necessary to test them at that age. I think we have a responsibility to settle them. They are so emotionally fragile at that age.

“They also pick up on the stress of adults and if we have teachers under pressure to meet targets, then children are likely to pick up on the teacher’s reaction to that pressure as well as potentially, the emotional stress of their teachers.”

Madeleine Holt, from the parents’ organisation Rescue our Schools, said: “Parents are becoming far more aware that their children are being over tested. The new test would steer the teaching of four-year-olds towards an excessive focus on numeracy and literacy.”

Labour MP Tracy Brabin said: “I believe children learn through play and creativity, not just through examinations. That’s why it’s great More than a Score is leading on this important work.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Standards are rising in our schools with 1.9m more pupils in good or outstanding schools than compared to 2010.

“The baseline assessment will help establish the progress made by pupils from reception to the end of key stage 2 and ensure schools are accountable for pupils’ progress as well as their attainment.

“Schools will be provided with the required materials and guidance to administer the assessment, which will be carried out in normal teaching time by a teacher or teaching assistant.

The Fierce Mistakes of Urgency

Here are three common problems when education reform pushes too far too fast.

By Michael McShane Opinion ContributorFeb. 27, 2018, at 11:30 a.m.


THE WORLD OF EDUCATION reform is in the midst of several heated debates. How should we authorize charter schools? Has the push for restorative discipline lead to chaos in classrooms? What should the federal role in education be?

One thread runs through all these discussions, the balance between urgency and prudence.

Urgency certainly has its value. It was no less a statesman than Martin Luther King Jr., who when speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial coined the phrase “the fierce urgency of now.” When your rights are being violated, or your kid is getting a crappy education, you want a fix right now. Children only get one shot at an education, and it’s cheap and insensitive to tell them that they have to wait for something better to come along.

But prudence is an underrated virtue. Education is an uncertain process. We have not found the one best way to educate children. Different children appear to thrive in different environments. Some need more discipline, some need less. Some are ready for Algebra in the eighth grade, some need to wait until the ninth.

We also don’t agree on the aims of our education system. We broadly talk about job preparedness, citizenship, socialization and the like, but the comity falls asunder as soon as we make any concrete decisions about what that might look like. Just think about all the conflict the Common Core dredged up and it was just math and language arts standards.

For these reasons, haste can be a vice. In our good-hearted desire to do right by kids, we can steamroll voices who are offering legitimate criticism. Course correcting can be viewed as capitulation. Pausing, even for a moment, can be viewed as defeat.

Part of this is driven by the type of people who get involved in education reform. If you scroll through the “About Us” pages of education reform organizations, you see a mélange of bright-eyed, smiling faces looking back at you. They tend to be younger than the average American and if they have the chance to write a few words about why they do what they do, they earnestly describe the teacher who changed their life or the moral outrage they have about the current condition of the nation’s education system.

Play the Long Game on School Choice

2018 will not be the year of school choice and that’s OK.

Michael McShaneJan. 3, 2018

This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Any social movement benefits from youthful energy. Moral righteousness helps weather the storms of politics. But, we do have to be honest about the risks of putting our thumbs on the scale of urgency. Briefly, I’ll outline three:

Not learning from failures. Urgency can breed a heads-down-damn-the-torpedoes ethos amongst people who really should be open to the idea that they are getting things wrong. Education is an uncertain process. Teachers know this. You plan a lesson a certain way, it tanks, hard, and you regroup and try something different. The same is true at the school, district, state and federal levels. By the time policy trickles its way down from legislators to educators, things get lost. A prudent observer accepts this as part and parcel of our patchwork system of educational governance and realizes that modifications will need to be made.

Maybe the rubric used to measure teacher performance doesn’t work in every classroom, maybe the state’s standards are misaligned to what the state’s universities want, maybe within the same state some districts are struggling to recruit good teachers while others are trying to get rid of bad ones. In all cases, advocates will need to be honest that what they pushed for initially isn’t working, and they need to change. (I recently wrote about Hanna Skandera, a former secretary of education of New Mexico, who made multiple changes to the teacher evaluation program that was the cornerstone of New Mexico’s reform effort in response to feedback from teachers and data from the field.)

Distrusting democracy. Perhaps the most pernicious part of an urgency focus is the distrust of democracy. We cannot allow elected officials to make decisions about how much money should be spent on schools, we must use courts. We cannot allow states to devise their own accountability systems for schools, the federal government must mandate what form they take. We cannot allow parents to decide what school is best for their child, a central official must ensure that it is “high quality.”

You can’t end-run democracy. Ultimately, if you want a policy to have real, durable, support you have to do the hard work of convincing people that you are right. You might be able to win in the short-term by moving jurisdictions from state houses to state boards and polling places to court rooms, but the next administration or the next justice appointed to the court can simply unwind everything you’ve done.

Overvaluing expertise. Those promoting urgency often like to shut down debate by arguing “well the research says x” or “experts agree that x is a good idea.” No one wants to get crossways of experts, particularly in a field like education. But expertise needs context. Research never really says that something is a good idea or a bad idea. Research tells us the pros and cons. Here is how a new reading program affected test scores, here is how much that program costs. We then have to take that information and ask was the result worth the cost? How does that intervention stack up to other interventions that a school, district, or state could undertake? Were there other, unintended consequences? There are rarely quick or easy answers to those questions.

I’m particularly interested in exploring this topic because it is a central theme of Jay Greene and my new volume “Failure Up Close.” The book features the work of nine brilliant education scholars talking about missteps in education policy and what we can learn from them. It is a healthy dose of prudence in a world of urgency and we hope that it can spark useful conversations about how to improve education policy moving forward.


The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) reported that a few continuing education courses were deemed ineligible for governmental subsidies after failing to meet the government’s requirements.

Yesterday, during a TDM program, Wong Chi Iong, Chief Executive of the Division of Continuing Education under the DSEJ, noted that, until January, the third phase of the DSEJ’s continuing education development program approved a total of more than 40,000 courses, although 10 percent of these were not approved for subsidies.

According to Wong, the cases without approval are related to the disqualification of course lecturers, unreasonable tuition fees, as well as poor course completion rates.

DSEJ has been criticized for failing to set up criteria for students’ attendance rate at specific institutions. One institution was denied inclusion in the subsidy fund despite their efforts to improve the attendance rate.

Wong said that this specific case was rejected due to the low attendance rate, since only 30 percent of the students finished the minimum of 70 percent of the classes.

DSEJ talked with the institution three times to advise them of the reason behind the rejection.

Wong expressed his understanding that students might be unable to attend the courses due to family or work reasons. He hopes that the courses’ organizers can nurture better performance in those courses to attract more residents to pursue continuous education.


Want to avoid the rise of a new extremism? Values-based schools and a ‘cosmocentric’ education are the key

This grassroots movement is finally being adopted around the world – and not before time, writes one pioneer of character education

“The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show” – Unknown

My wife Jane and I were in Iceland recently, where we gave a presentation at a conference called “The Spirit of Humanity”. People from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines were brought together to consider how we could promote the flourishing of humanity by focusing on what is happening that is positive. Our presentation was given with teachers from Álfaheidi School, a popular Icelandic values-based school for children aged 1 to 7.

The highlight of the presentation was a video that showed, in ways that words fail to do, the nurturing power of a school that is founded on positive human values, attachment, empowering relationships and a creative inner curriculum, which gives children a range of meaningful foundation experiences for life. The video, through simple photographs of these young children living their values, touched the hearts of the audience and was met by spontaneous applause when it ended. There was a powerful intuitive understanding that if all children received a similar education then humanity could be transformed.

We believe that young children are close to the soul of humanity and need our support to maintain their inquisitiveness, openness and natural desire to learn and experience. Values-based education (VbE) and its inner curriculum focuses on the human spirit, our essence, all that is unseen but is real, such as thoughts and emotions, experiences that create awe and wonder and the realisation of the connectedness of humanity.

When my colleagues and I developed the first explicitly VbE school in Oxfordshire, I knew that there would be people who would think it a distraction from the school’s core business or that such a emphasis should not be the focus for mainstream schools. I also knew that in order to satisfy the misgivings of many, I would have to demonstrate the impact of VbE as a practical philosophy that would effectively combine a knowledge and character-based curriculum.

Professor Terry Lovat, from Australia, visited the school and wanted the work he witnessed to influence the development of education in Australia. This he did, with an investment of $40 million in the process. The impact of the initiative was researched and the benefits were firmly established.