The politicising of news

Nothing more clearly and shockingly for democracy captures the anti-SNP bias in our MSM. I’ve shown before how only BBC Scotland uses images of politicians with reports of NHS problems. BBC UK, England, N Ireland and Wales rarely if ever even mention a politician, but blame the health boards or contractors. The Herald today, as did Reporting Scotland last night, travel in their challenged little minds, from the exam results quickly past many potentially responsible groups to point the finger of blame at the SNP [Government].

The headline claim is risible.

First, these are one year changes which do not suggest any meaningful trend worthy of major intervention. N4 Mathematics students know this.

Second, most subjects had been modified in the previous year, so small reductions in the pass rate may be regrettable but largely unavoidable and temporary effects which will be smoothed out as teachers, note ‘teachers’, become more familiar with them. There is no need for an SNP commissar in each classroom!

Most of all, however, the notion that one single factor could be influential in any actual trend in the complex world of education, if there is one here, is stupid. Here are just a few which real researchers know can have powerful effects on young people, especially, and which might play some part in the very small percentage annual changes we see here:

  1. The cumulative worsening effects of austerity politics in the form of temporary accommodation, overcrowding, noise pollution and reduced diet.
  2. Fast-changing trends in social media/peer group pressures impacting on learner motivation or time.
  3. Changing patterns in alcohol and recreational drug-use.
  4. Changing conditions in part-time work as employers seek ever greater control and flexibility for themselves.
  5. Climate? 2019 was one of the warmest ever.

To reiterate, annual changes in exam results tell us next to nothing and longer trends require complex explanation but even these often remain beyond our understanding due to the enormous complexity of factors affecting pupils.

Politicians can and should be blamed for austerity and inequality and illegal wars but what happens in a classroom is beyond them.