Ayrshire has a very high educational reputation in Scotland, and not without reason. It has recently introduced an all‐through, all‐in (no privileged academies excluded), 12–18 comprehensive provision which shows up well against the contorted schemes in other areas. But, before we are carried away in admiration, it is as well to escape from the intimidating myth that Scottish education is ipso facto superior to our own. Certainly in the era of selection, the provision in Ayrshire was arguably more egalitarian. The academies took in up to 40 per cent of the school population at age 12 and passed the majority of these on to some form of higher education. But the tradition was, and still is, strongly academic to the detriment of the other 60 per cent who suffered the double disadvantage of an academic approach unlikely to cultivate their talents before the crucial birthday, and the belief which complements a large selective take‐up that ‘those who would be capable of benefiting from this kind of education’ are getting it.
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