Does Scotland really care about Brian Wilson?

(c) (Image: Steve McKendrick)

In the Scotsman today, we read:

‘Brian Wilson: Does Scotland actually care about education?’

At first when I see the words ‘Brian Wilson’, I think ‘God only knows what I’d be without you’ and I begin to feel good vibrations but then when I see it’s that wee Labour guy from the 70s and 80s, my spirits sink before I even read:

‘Does Scotland, as a society, really care about education? A decade ago, the question would have verged on the sacreligious. Education was our USP. The best in the world, we used to boast. Faith in the democratic intellect shaped our self-image. Always a little over-egged but with at least a basis of historic truth. Look at us now. Further down the international league tables than the Scottish football team for whom it is not an option to stop publishing results which is the Scottish Government’s preferred tactic on literacy and numeracy.’

Leaving aside the wrong spelling of ‘sacriligious’ (that’s what Word puts the red line under for Brian), the article is rambling, confused, evidence-free, just wrong. I cannot bear to do him the honour of a line-by-line dismissal (He’s not warf it, Jonn!) but will restrict myself to suggesting some reading that might help:

Educational attainment gaps much smaller in Scotland than in England after 10 years of SNP government: JRF Poverty Report Extract 6

Figures show majority of Scottish school pupils are performing well as England’s educational policy makers dither

Closing Scotland’s Education Gap: The Herald’s ‘education guru’ is on the wrong track

Scotland’s school’s PISA results ‘lean’ toward nothing meaningful. Finland’s success is not real. South Korea and China’s educational programmes amount to child abuse

Herald’s emeritus professor gets it wrong on alleged teacher shortages in Scotland’s schools which are much better staffed than those in England

SNP continues to build far more schools than Labour did/could

97% of Scotland’s head teachers expect attainment gap to close over next five years thanks to SNP government funding

BBC Scotland’s wilful mis-represenation on literacy levels

Ruth Davidson’s chaotic attack on school standards is ignorant

SNP Government increases teacher numbers to create far superior pupil/teacher ratios and much smaller attainment gaps than in England




10 thoughts on “Does Scotland really care about Brian Wilson?

  1. Alasdair Macdonald August 11, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    This article is pure hackery and tribalism.

    This man knows a lot about education and could contribute constructively to the raising achievement discourse, but, instead he files shallow mendacious rubbish.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cubby August 11, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    Horrible horrible person – right up there with Gordon Brown Alistair Darling Jim Murphy Joanne Lamont. Bunch of red Tories who thought it was their everlasting right to rule Scotland. Britnat red Tories. They ruled Scotland for their own personal benefit. Bunch of tractors.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Legerwood August 11, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    “A decade ago” is I take it Mr Wilson’s shorthand for ‘before the SNP’ came to power everything in Education was wonderful. Em, well no it was not.

    Bearing in mind all the caveats about PISA scores some of which have been aired in a recent article, the PISA scores for the pre-SNP period paint an entirely different picture from the all was glorious picture painted by Mr Wilson.

    Maths: Reading Science
    2000 …533 526 522
    2003… 524 516 514
    2006… 506 499 515

    A 27 point drop in Maths and Reading. Just one of the indicators that things were not well in Scottish Education. In 2004 after a major review and various consultations the Labour/LibDem coalition in Holyrood adopted the Curriculum for Excellence as the way forward for schools. Implementation began in 2010.

    Meanwhile during the SNP’s time in office the PISA scores stabilised as noted by the OECD in its 2015 report on Scottish Schools

    The PISA scores over this period were:

    Maths Reading Science
    2009 499 500 514
    2012 498 506 513
    2015 491 493 497 *

    * Science scores showed a drop in 2015 but were still above the OECD average of 493 which had dropped from 501 in 2012. Maybe someone had tweaked the algorithm that is used to calculate the PISA scores – see the article linked to below.

    In its 2015 report the OECD had many positives to point to about Scottish Schools some of which came from the discursive elements within the PISA reports. These showed that Scotland was holding its own in international terms.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gavin August 12, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Rt Hon Brian Wilson? Fingers in many energy pies–not unconnected with his brief in government. Net worth in the tens of £millions, it seems
    Has been involved in Nuclear power, wind power and coal—was a Director of the Scottish Resource Group, an opencast coal extracting company which left huge ecological damage to the old mining areas of Scotland when it collapsed—estimated at about £150 million.
    Mr Wilson walked away without an apology that I have seen.
    Incidentally his fellow “Scottish” director was one James Lindsay-Bethune, the Earl of Lindsay, who got to be President of the National Trust for Scotland.
    Quite astonishing really, given the ecological vandalism of opencast mining. In some ways even odder than picking fellow Brit Nat Neil Oliver for the same post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gavin August 12, 2018 / 2:36 pm

      I have also thought the main reason for the dislike/hatred by British Nationalists, of those who wish Scotland to be a self governing country, was it meant the end of the magic roundabout of lucrative posts/ jobs/ sinecures doled out to the wee clique which has run Scotland (under Westminster’s beady eye) for a century.
      The Brit Nat parties might pretend to compete for votes, but under the radar they are the best of chums, sharing the spoils while keeping the “natives” quiet.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Robert Graham August 12, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    Aye Wilson a tool for the use of .
    Anyone actually believe PISA results or scores would ever see the light of day if Scottish Education was top of every list known to man , this nervana that is this PISA has started being questioned from many different organisations because it seems to be focused on a particular form of education, the intensive indoctrination learning Parrot fashion might be suitable if we want conformist little Clones that follow without question instructions.

    This is just another club to silence any talk of independence, if it wasn’t this it would be something else any old club will do.
    So we have the usual cycle all useless and on the edge of collapsing – Police- NHS – every service run by the government our freely elected government can’t ever be seen to be working, and don’t even try to look south and compare the results between our services and the southern equivalent .

    Liked by 2 people

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