Douglas Hutchison – Director of Education SAC – 20 November 2018

Douglas Hutchison, South Ayrshire’s Depute Chief Executive and Director – People, and himself a former teacher and educational psychologist, came to talk to the club on the Future of Education in Scotland and how it affects South Ayrshire. He described some of the changes which have taken place in the Scottish Education system over the past ten to fifteen years as a series of “six mistakes” and attributed the worst of these to ideology winning out over evidence. Together these have resulted in a measureable decline in literacy and numeracy, and have produced, among other things, a shortage of teachers and educational psychologists. According to Douglas, misplaced educational decisions have often been made for political reasons to the detriment of children’s learning, especially to those living in deprived areas. On a more positive note, he cited the consistent year-on-year improvement in national qualifications gained by pupils in South Ayrshire schools, along with the ongoing success of the Council’s schools rebuilding programme. Closing the attainment gap between pupils in the worst- and best-off economic sectors is a key Government target in which, Douglas reported, South Ayrshire was making solid progress.

Thanking Douglas, former head teacher Hugh Millar applauded the wonderful new working spaces the rebuilding programme had created, but shared Douglas’s concern that the government system for deprivation support passes over South Ayrshire, failing to address the serious need that characterises some localities in the Council’s area.