Author Archives: Graham Robertson

Raising Aspirations and HE

Joined in with the Call Kaye programme today on Radio Scotland where they were debating inclusion to University. I manage a programme called “The Graduate” at work that aims to do just that. You might have read about us in TES Scotland.

I get passionate that young people from “deprived” areas are not looking for lowered academic expectations to get into University – How patronising is that? I believe we need to up aspiration and belief and self esteem.

I’ll give you an example; an ex pupil of mine who left school with excellent academic qualifications was chatting to the Heidie when she was choosing her Dux prize. The Boss asked her why she was doing an HN and not a degree – Her heart breaking answer was “I didn’t think it was the right place for me” – she didn’t believe she belonged. How much rubbish is that in the 21st century.

Now that girl has her choice of University courses to go to in September so – she HAS achieved.

I grew up in Gallowhill, a relatively poor area in Paisley in the 70s and 80s. Both my brother and I went to University. But, in a Neil Kinnock stylee, we were the first Robertsons in hundreds of generations to do that. Was I better than my pals I played football in the street with? Certainly not. The difference was my parents (a Cooper and a shop worker) would use language like “When you go to Uni”… It was the language that mattered. I always knew and believed I was going.

That’s why our “Graduate” Programme starts by running PX2 by the Pacific Institute. Because it HAS to be about the language our pupils hear daily. It has to be about them talking about HE as a serious positive destination.

Yes – Attainment is essential – but it’s belief and hope that need to drive that attainment – and equipping our young people with the skills and resilience to get to University.



“A” Broad General Education Versus “The” Broad General Education

I’m excited by the prospect and opportunity CfE brings to Scottish Education. I’m slightly frustrated by some folk talking about “The” Broad General Education at the expense of “a” Broad General Education. Excuse the pedantry but I think it’s important — the more we strive in our authorities for homogeneity in our schools delivering CfE the less we actually seem to understand CfE.

Surely the great liberation that A Curriculum for Excellence brings to Scotland is the fact that we should be celebrating the diversity in schools not creating a uniform model? Every school in Scotland should be able to be different from our immediate neighbour because every school contains unique pupils with unique needs.

As I said , the real liberator here is the freedom to be creative and innovative – not tied into a single unified template.

Or am I reading my documents wrong?


PS – Please excuse any dodgy spelling/grammar mistakes in this post – It’s been a long day and I often illustrate Irony by saying “I’m the English Teacher who can’t spell”