Worries over BBC Scotland’s lack of evidence of worries in schools

This morning and repeated every 30 minutes on BBC Breakfast:

There are worries that the system being used ot work out this years exam results could leave pupils at a disadvantage. End of year exams were cancelled for the first time in history because of the pandemic. Instead grades will be made up of teachers’ predictions checked by the Scottish Qualifications authority. There are also concerns that the usual backup plan of appeals will not be as effective. The SQA has said that it will only moderate estimates where necessary to make sure results are fair across the country.

Then we see one student report anxiety.

So, a scare story, to trash the reputation of Scotland’s schools and by association the minister, John Swinney, has no sources, no evidence and no balance but it will have an impact on the subconscious level – propaganda, thought control of the kind liberal democracies specialise in.

How many have expressed these worries or concerns? How big was the sample? What percentage was worried? Were they pupils, parents, teachers, researchers, trade unionists, opposition politicians? Might that be informative for the viewers?

No doubt we’ll get more detail on Reporting Scotland. Who do you think has the worries or concerns?

Do we really need to be worried about pupils being disadvantaged?

I had nearly 40 years in schools, teacher education and HE assessment. For 3 years I was Associate Dean: Quality Assurance. Based on that experience, I’d say we need to worry more about the opposite – grade inflation.

Am I alone in this?

In Scotland:

I am a teacher and I want to know if assignments/ coursework will be marked. If so what will the process be as some schools will not have done these under timed exam conditions yet, more so higher. If we are using our profession judgement alongside evidence how much weighting needs to be on the prelim exam, especially as it isn’t always a full prelim and we know pupils can improve after getting a fright. Lastly, how are we checking the national standards as I worry some schools/ teachers may inflate grades to work in the pupils favour.


In England:

In guidance released today regarding the use of teacher-assessed grades for this summer’s GCSEs, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) advises schools not to give pupils the benefit of the doubt in awarding more grade 4s – considered a pass grade – than students would normally have achieved.


How hard would it be for BBC Scotland researchers to do what I have done in 30 minutes?

13 thoughts on “Worries over BBC Scotland’s lack of evidence of worries in schools”

  1. Considering that educators and parents worldwide are worried just as much as in Scotland about kid’s education, this hype is probably the last thing they want to hear..
    ABC right enough

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘How hard would it be for BBC Scotland researchers to do what I have done in 30 minutes?’

    Not hard, impossible. Mis-news is the agenda.
    Have the media even once questioned the lie that money to Scotland during the pandemic is a gift from loving uncle England.
    I am getting seriously pissed off at this endless propaganda and they haven’t even started.
    Buckle up.

    ‘If you’re a political journalist who has regular contact with people in power, and your analysis is always aligned with prevailing orthodoxy, then you’re not really a journalist, you’re a courtier.’
    Frankie Boyle

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I have never heard of this particular group before.

    Since the award of grades for this year will be based on the school assessments, appropriately moderated, as they have been for decades and, since appeals against lower than expected grades in the EXAMS are based on evidence supplied by the schools, I cannot see what the grounds for appeal will be this particular year. It will have to be a claim that the moderation procedure was wrong.

    I was involved over many years with the Scottish Qualifications Authority and, sadly, despite the substantial efforts of the SQA, Councils, Schools, Principal Teachers, there were always some students who suffered because their particular class teachers had not done the job well. And, sadly, despite the best efforts of the young person, the inadequacy of the teaching meant that the student had not demonstrated competence to the agreed standard. When we looked at scripts from the same group of students, we could see similar erroneous phrases appearing repeatedly. The most plausible explanation is bad teaching in these cases.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. This must be the day where Education and schools are the agreed topic across the MSM. The Herald going big on COSLA saying money from Scottish Gov to fund extra teachers and another item on how the loss of these 5 months will still be affecting them in 50 years time – or some such time period.


  5. The BBC love a good worry story. Scotland has much to worry about, it’s called the Eng Tory government and power grab etc etc.

    Have to say though, given my kids’ experiences at school and in fact college, with various learning difficulties, (though younger was eventually home educated and taught himself Japanese very successfully, having been put in the bottom of the class at school in English!), I would not trust a system where a teacher could decide which mark to give, in any way.

    As much as they could mark some kids’ work up, they could also mark some kids’ work down. They are only human after all, and they have their preconceptions and biases, ie they are definitely not always objective about the kids or their abilities imo!

    Certainly how a class is taught makes a huge difference, definitely. I have that from son who tried a college French class, and who has been learning Chinese past few months, uni online class, and says that the French class teaching was really not conducive to actually learning effectively at all, which is why he had stopped attending, sadly.


  6. Here’s a thought. Why not have every school pupil from P1 to S6 repeat this year? This would mean that they would all get a full year in P1 to S6 and , for those in S3-S6 a chance to sit the actual exams rather than get a subjective result and allow every school pupil the chance to catch up.

    After all the educationalists and other ‘experts’ are going on ad nauseam about the adverse impact that this break has had on pupils and how it will impact their life chances, earning power etc.

    The 5 year olds who are due to start school in August can still do so. The extra teachers can take the new P1 and temporary portakabin style classrooms can be deployed to accommodate them during 2020-21. They would be perfectly adequate for 1 year.

    Repeating a year is not all that unusual. When I started high school – 5 years, 2 languages – 4 boys who should have been going into 2nd year repeated 1st year and were thus able to move from a 3 year course to the 5 year course. One became an architect and 2 started their own businesses.

    Some pupils in S6 may already have sufficient highers to get into Uni but with the uncertainty surrounding how Unis will organise themselves in a Covid dominated world it might not be a bad idea to delay for a year and really complete S6 etc.

    Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know but it would be interesting to know if they even considered it. Probably too late now to organise it even if it was possible.


  7. Of course the easiest thing to do to avoid portakabin classrooms etc would be to raise the starting age for P1 to age 6 or thereabouts so that this year’s 5 year olds who should start school in Aug 2020 don’t start P1 until next year.

    Educationalists etc are always saying 5 is too early so here is an opportunity to raise the age to six years old.


  8. Interesting interview from Ch4 news with a professor from Jamaica on self determination and ‘dealing’ with our past (loaded question from interviewer) :

    Sounds like we’ll be ‘dealing’ with our past just fine thanks Krish.


    1. Unfortunately, I missed that because I had to answer a phone call just as it was starting and did not get back to it, so thanks for putting it up here.

      That was an impressive, dignified and powerful assertion of the case. I loved it when he stated his Scottishness – ONE SCOTLAND – and then outlined the scope of Scottish history before and after the union and the growing awareness of aspects of our history.

      The programme from Edinburgh demonstrated how inadequate Mr Guru Murthy is as an interviewer and how rapidly he fell into bombast and bluster whenever his ignorance was apparent.

      Although Ch4 News is in some ways more courageous and properly journalistic than the BBC, it does have a metropolitan condescension and, and a presumption, that Scottish independence is ‘a bad thing’. Thus Ciaran Jenkins gives daily reports on ‘bad’ things in Scotland and, when they do ‘vox pops’, they find only British Nationalists (with Scottish accents) telling us how independence is bad.


      1. Yep. I think the the Professors response comes from the confidence of being brought up in an already independent country. It would be interesting to hear one of his lectures on Scottish history!


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