Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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I have been proud to be involved in the publication of all seven books in the Postcards from Scotland series (more to follow). But I have been particularly proud of Schooling Scotland: Education, equity and community by Daniel Murphy. There are lots of reasons for this but let me concentrate on four.
First, Danny focuses particularly on the most important issue in Scottish education - the substantial difference in attainment between those from affluent and deprived backgrounds. This is a blight not just on the lives of those who can achieve so much more but also on Scotland. It is something we desperately need to address and Danny's contribution can help guide us.
Second, Danny is a sophisticated thinker, adept at philosophising where appropriate. But this is no dry, theoretical work argued from first principles as is often the case with books on Scottish education. Rather, on almost every page, Danny reveals himself as someone with a wealth of experience on day to day schooling and a particular affinity for young people. As a result, his analysis and prescriptions are both child centred and practical. His ideas appear straightforward and simple (e.g raising the school entry date to five for all children and introducing a graduation certificate) but his suggestions could make a tangible difference, would cost little and would not need wholesale system change.
Third, Danny's whole approach is engaging for the lay reader. You don't have to be involved in education to get a lot out of reading this book. Indeed it introduces you to some of the key developments in Scottish education while convincing you that all of us should be involved in what's going on in our schools.
Finally, this is a courageous book. Scotland is a small country where the Scottish Government wields a lot of power, particularly over education. National agencies also hold considerable sway and it can be difficult to question their role and way of operating. But this is exactly what Danny does in this book by questioning whether Scotland is always well served by its inspectorate and arguing for a more community based evaluation of our schools.
This is a small but informative and challenging book with the capacity to really change Scottish education, and young people's lives, for the better. It is a tremendous addition to Postcards from Scotland.