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Scottish education Archives

August 21, 2015

Closing the gap in Scottish education: is it possible?

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Gary Robertson (photo courtesy of the BBC) interviewed Keir on Good Morning Scotland yesterdayday, shortly after he talked to Larry Flanagan (EIS) and before Iain Gray (Labour Party spokesman for education). Now that Nicola Sturgeon has proposed that her government be judged by its success in "closing the gap", there has been a flurry of interest in Keir's comments on this issue. On yesterday's phone-in with Kaye Adams, there was also plenty of confusion about what it actually means.

He is talking about the attainment gap between pupils from areas of deprivation and poverty compared with those from affluent areas. The easiest way to do it, wholly unacceptably of course, would be to dumb down or hold back pupils with greater educational success. To some extent the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and limitation of the number of Highers has already done this, albeit by accident. The hardest time to close the gap is when you are already committed to improving the attainment of all pupils. As Keir pointed out, abolishing the gap (the First Minister's declared goal) would means improving the performance of the weakest pupils at an astonishingly fast rate.

He reminds us that children from poorer areas are already a full year behind the more favoured pupils before they even start school. Given the failure of various honest attempts to "close the gap" in Scottish education over the past 70-odd years, Nicola Sturgeon has certainly taken on a massive challenge. The programme is available via iPlayer here and Keir's interview  lasts for five minutes, starting after about 1 hour and 37 minutes.

July 9, 2016

Keir Bloomer, Doctor of the University

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"Keir Bloomer is one of the leading authorities in Scottish educational policy and practice"

Thus began Mark Laing's laudation yesterday, in the ceremony at the Usher Hall that gave Keir the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causaThe award was "for services to Scottish education and for his significant contribution to the strategic development of Queen Margaret University".

For nine years he has served the University Court, from 2011-16 as its Chair. In his acceptance speech, he admitted to having put in many more hours than for his first degree. Mark, who is Vice-Chair of the Court, commented particularly upon Keir's "incisive and self-deprecating sense of humour ... [and how he] somehow managed to leave everyone feeling that their view had carried the day".

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Here is Petra Wend, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, making her thoughtful address to all the graduands. She congratulated them and their families gracefully, and also emphasised the importance of personal qualities, not merely academic achievement. She stressed the importance of self-confidence and adaptability, and of being able to admit calmly when you don't know. She didn't refer explicitly to impostor syndrome, but this article has good advice on how to handle it. It is more prevalent than you think.

If Keir was suffering from impostor syndrome, he didn't reveal it. It was an unreservedly happy occasion, enhanced by having daughter and sister-in-law, Lindsay, present. Here he is afterwards in our garden, with Helen:

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About Scottish education

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