*Update: I’ve taken the ? out of the title after a reasonable confirmation (below) that the not-so-good prof is actually the father of a LibDem MSP recently investigated for expenses irregularities: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/our-region/edinburgh/corstorphine/lib-dem-msp-alex-cole-hamilton-faces-expenses-probe-1-4239214
Here’s the STV report:
‘Falling standards in Scottish schools has been partly blamed on pupils being taught multiple qualifications in the same class. A leading professor at St Andrews University says multi-course teaching should only be used where absolutely necessary. This month the [PISA] report concluded Scotland’s performance in school s has slipped to ‘just average’ compared with other developed countries.’
Here’s some of the Herald report:
‘A SLUMP in school standards has been blamed on the controversial practice of teaching pupils different qualifications in the same class. A leading academic said so-called multi-course teaching was one of the reasons for the decline highlighted in a prominent international education survey – particularly in science. In December, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) concluded that Scotland’s performance was now “average” compared to other developed countries in science, as well as in maths and reading.’
Here are some problems with, David Cole-Hamilton, the ‘leading professor/academic.’
1. He has done NO research into this topic or into any other educational methodology. He is a retired professor of chemistry with only chemistry research publications like: ‘Synthesis of bifunctional monomers by the palladium-catalyzed carbonylation of cardanol and its derivatives.’
2. He does NOT appear to have a teaching qualification or any experience of teaching in schools judging by his biography at: http://chemistry.st-andrews.ac.uk/staff/djc/group/david.html
3. He works in a university (St Andrews) with NO teacher training faculty
4. He might be a LibDem or even a LibDem MSP’s dad?
Here are two more problems, with the Herald and STV reports, stupidly linking the prof’s ideas with the PISA test results:
- ‘Every PISA survey tests reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in terms of general competencies, that is, how well students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life challenges. PISA does not test how well a student has mastered a school’s specific curriculum.’ The professor’s opinions are based on the idea that teaching Higher, National 5 and National 4 in the same subject, in the same room is somehow damaging. He has no evidence.
- The prof even tells us that, in wee rural schools, this is not a problem because ‘they know how to do it.’ Is he really suggesting that qualified teachers in urban schools don’t know how to handle different levels yet rural ones do? Again he offers no evidence and there’s no suggestion that he might be qualified to offer any in his cv.
Finally is the prof an unbiased commentator. Is he a LibDem? Is he even a LibDem MSP’s dad? I’m not saying he is but…………….
I see there’s an Alex Cole-Hamilton in the Scottish Liberal Democrats. See this on Facebook:
‘Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP | Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/alexformsp/ Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, where I live with my family Alex Cole–Hamilton MSP shared Scottish Liberal Democrats‘s video. David Cole–Hamilton, Jane Cole-Hamilton, Cathy McInnes and 14 others like this.’
Also see this letter to the Independent in May 2015 strongly supporting the LibDems:
Lib Dems pay the price of the Coalition
Sean O’Grady (“Ah, Nick, you could have been a contender”, 9 May) paints a picture of what might have been if after the 2010 election the Liberal Democrats had remained in opposition, supporting the Tories only when appropriate.
He seems to ignore two things. The first is the positive things that the Coalition gave to this country entirely as a result of the Lib Dems. These include the rise in the lower tax threshold, giving £800 to many people, although not the rich; making sure that pensions will rise at least 2.5 per cent per year; introducing 1.6 million apprenticeships since 2010; tackling climate change and creating 200,000 new jobs by investing in renewable energy; creating the first green investment bank; providing free school meals for all Year 1 and 2 children. None of these crucial changes would have occurred without the Lib Dems being in government.
The second is that, at the start of the last parliament, there was no need for the Conservatives to serve the full term, and they could have called an election at any time. If the Liberal Democrats had voted against the much deeper cuts the Conservatives proposed or measures such as the right of bosses to fire people for no reason, the Tories would have called an election, which almost certainly would have given them increased support and would have decimated the Liberal Democrats for bringing down the Government. We would then have been where we are now but without the raised threshold for tax, the pensions lock, etc. Nick Clegg was right to go into the Coalition, and we shall see now what it might have been like if he had not.
St Andrews, Fife
Finally, for more on why PISA results are no use at all, anyway, see: