I had high hopes for tonight's Tom Hunter's programme on Scottish education and his examination of how we might address the so-called attainment gap - whatever that really is other than a fatuous political sound-bite! Even with the intended opportunities, now long lost in the perversion of Curriculum for Excellence, 'the attainment gap' is being measured by the ridiculous notion of counting how many Highers any pupil gets: and Tom Hunter fell short of really challenging the current state of Scottish education. He simply dabbled around in the murky water of privately run English schools employing non-qualified, non-teachers. This was a programme filled with too many rhetorical questions and not enough anonymity in interviewing teaching professionals so that they were really free to speak the same talk which echoes out of ear-shot of schools' managers in teaching Bases and staff rooms. One contributor tried to be clever by changing the gap phrase for yet another sound-bite by talking about 'raising the bar' and then went on to explain how the bar was a clutch of....yes you guessed it.... qualifications! So much for Tom's search for proper answers. In my view, the barrier to raising standards is the herd of education officers or whatever they are now called who lurk in Education services buildings, utterly remote from the schools they serve and seem to replicate the job of HMIe by claiming, as one poor soul did in his attempt to analyse my work, to need to "drill down" (actual quote) to analyse statistics and ask challenge questions: questions which these officers certainly didn't create. In other words, by blindly believing the pointless, hideous & patronising statement of ensuring that all teachers should be 'striving for constant improvement' (quote from a teaching appointment advert which asked that applicants had evidence of their achievements in fulfilling this mantra) this individual could see no further than ever yet more statistics to justify his job. Education is not shoving pupils towards University - only 17% of Scottish school leavers go that route and a good percentage drop out in less than year. So what we need to raise the bar is to make education relevant to today's young people: endless self-evaluation, analysis of statistics and challenge questions might look like intelligent people doing a thorough job but actually it covers-up the hollowness of the process. Managing data, demanding yet more data and mincing data while pretending to make it look meaningful is about management 'control' not supporting teachers. So, ridding councils of this enormous layer of officers would free-up enormous budgets and would give teachers the freedom to create relevant education for the majority and to work outside the shadow of numbers and the monopoly of SQA on assessment. Until then we won't raise any real bar or standard for the majority. Let Headteachers do their job of leading education and let HMIe do their statutory work for the Govt. as we don't need such invasive local authority control. Don't get me wrong, I love my job; the young people I have the privilege of teaching are great and my colleagues are equally enthused and committed but given the opportunity to improve the quality of what we do, I reckon the majority certainly wouldn't look to getting ever more youngsters sieved through Nationals and we would hold apprenticeships, technical and vocational training at the same level of esteem as the exam-based Nationals and Highers....and maybe parents and carers would have more faith in our honesty and integrity?