School of Social and Political Science

Research project type

Scottish Education



Education is now the basis of social success in liberal societies, the key to occupational opportunity, civic participation and fulfilling leisure. Failure in education now greatly increases the risk of social marginalisation.

Project focus

The project on which Lindsay Paterson is currently working – funded by the Leverhulme Trust ­ - aims to explain how that role of education has come about using the uniquely rich set of educational surveys of Scotland that date back to 1932 and extend to the present century.

Scotland pioneered the use of high-quality national surveys in education. It led the world in the use of statistics as a means of explaining students’ learning and understanding how their learning relates to their social context and opportunities.

That distinctive history attracted international admiration, and was sustained as a highly creative, though often tense, partnership among government, school teachers, and academic researchers. The research brings together these surveys to provide a statistical account of Scottish education from the mid-20th century to the present.


Around 1988 - present day

Find out more

Paterson, L. (2018), ‘The significance of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918’Scottish Affairs, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 401-424.

Paterson, L. (2015), ‘Democracy or intellect? The Scottish educational dilemma of the twentieth century’, in Anderson, R. D., Freeman, M. and Paterson, L. (eds) (2015), The Edinburgh History of Education in Scotland, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 226-45.

Paterson, L. (2014), ‘Education and opportunity: is the UK departing from a common tradition?’, Journal of the British Academy, vol. 2, pp. 101-123.

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