Just another Anti-SNP pile-on to help the sad opposition score a wee point

There’s a deep irony in this man calling for another’s head but let’s not go there.

Macwhirter is just the latest in a foul-smelling gang baying for Swinney to stand-down and to give the opposition parties a sad wee ‘victory’ in their daily struggle against deepening insignificance.

Yesterday’s attack by the Scotsman’s ageing trolls led, by Wilson and McLellan, was one of the most naked pieces of propaganda I’ve seen for some time. It saddened me again, as a former reader back in the 20th Century and as retired academic who used to tell undergraduates of my pride in her (the Scotsman) being one of the few newspapers standing against the violence of the British Empire when in 1956 it invaded Egypt to ‘take back control’ of a canal in another country.

Swinney, like Freeman and Robison before her, has been successful in one of two hugely challenging spheres – Education and Health – where things could always be better whatever you do.

On the basis of a tiny student protest, deliberately making little of the improved pass rates and the free appeal process which is the obvious way to deal with any injustice, the opposition parties and their media now howl for the Education Secretary’s head.

Objectively, of course, there is no basis for their campaign and the contrary evidence for success is clear. I’m not going to repeat it all in full here, with all the references, but they are at:


Enough for a Sunday morning with the sun beckoning, let me just repeat from Glasgow’s Director of Education, Maureen McKenna, in the less partisan and more credible Times Education Supplement in December 2019:

This is a response to all that guff about things in Scottish education being terrible. There are a lot of people painting a very negative picture. We are not saying everything is rosy but what we are saying is that there are a range of statistics out there that point to another side, that create a different narrative.

65% The reduction in exclusions nationally between 2006-07 and 2018-19.

22.3% The proportion of pupils achieving five or more awards at Higher or equivalent by the end of S5. This has almost doubled since 2009-10, when the figure was 11.3 per cent

44.4% Proportion of school leavers in the most deprived areas of Scotland achieving at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18. In 2012-13 that figure stood at 34.9 per cent

62.2% Proportion of school leavers gaining at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18, compared to 55.8 per cent in 2012-13.


9 thoughts on “Just another Anti-SNP pile-on to help the sad opposition score a wee point”

  1. Given the scale of an unprecedented pandemic, I believe the Scottish Government, the Education Secretary and the S.Q.A have done a magnificent job. Probably not perfect, but far, far better than those who are now criticising the people in charge. And the question never asked by the M.S.M, “how would you do it better”.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It is, I suggest, profoundly stupid of Macwhirter and others to fail to provide context for their musing. on the SQA and Scottish education.


    “By 2011/12, 13 million people in the UK were living in poverty. For the first time more than half of these people lived in a working family. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2013).

    The proportion of children that are living in poverty in the UK has risen from 24% in 2008 to 27% in 2012/3. However, this proportion will increase. According to the Child Poverty Action Group the 3.5 million children living in poverty in 2012/13 will be joined by another 600,000 by 2016, with the total rising to 4.7 million by 2020 (CPAG 2014). UNICEF has reported a strong relationship between the impact of the ‘Great Recession’ on national economies and a decline in children’s well-being since 2008. Children are suffering most, and will bear the consequences longest, in countries where the recession has hit hardest. The poorest and most vulnerable children have suffered disproportionately (UNICEF 2014)…..

    …..Hunger in the classroom is increasing. Problems like squeezed food budgets, increasingly busy parents and a growing problem of food poverty in the UK are contributing to the reasons why children are arriving at school already hungry.
    This in turn is putting an extra burden on teachers, who are spending more time dealing with the effects of hunger in the classroom and less time teaching.
    Going without food in the morning has a direct impact on children’s behaviour and concentration in lessons, making them less likely to reach their full potential at school and could in turn affect their future prospects….

    …Some subjects, especially ‘creative subjects’ (art, design and technology, photography) require extra materials and therefore cost more to study. 27 per cent of students on free school meals (FSM); 14 per cent of low-income students; and 8 per cent of better-off students chose not to study arts or music due to the associated costs.
    The price of food left many young people going hungry during the school day. 25 per cent of students on FSM; 55 per cent of low-income students; and 13 per cent of better-off students said that they were going hungry at school because they could not afford to eat. They reported that going hungry left them unable to concentrate at school.
    Many young people reported missing school trips because they were prohibitively expensive. 57 per cent of low-income students and 28 per cent of better-off students said that they had missed at least one school trip because of the price and this had had some impact on them. The impacts of missing school trips included the ability to socialise and make friends, and learn new skills.
    35 per cent of students on FSM; 25 per cent of low-income students; and 5 per cent of better-off students identified cost as preventing them from having a full school uniform. Those unable to have a full uniform said that this got them into trouble and made them feel different to their peers.
    Most young people reported not having all the books and equipment needed for their studies. 21 per cent of students receiving FSM; 14 per cent of students from low-income households; and 5 per cent of students from better-off families suggested that cost was to blame. A lack of books, revision guides and stationery meant that their ability to study was reduced.
    9 per cent of young people questioned did not have access to a computer at home or were denied internet access.”

    In Scotland, as a result of UK government’s welfare reforms, poverty among school children is expected to rise to 30% by 2030, according to Reed and Stark 2018. The IFS says 29%.

    Despite the unnecessary and cruel use of “austerity” (a political project based on deceit) Scotland’s local authorities may have fared better than their English counterparts.

    Click to access Summary-Final.pdf

    Despite austerity, in 2017 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:”“Scotland has a proud record in reducing poverty over the last 20 years, with significant falls in pensioner and child poverty. It has meant thousands of families across the country have enjoyed better living standards, financial security and better prospects.

    “But Scotland stands at a turning point as the challenge facing families on low incomes changes. The rising cost of housing and the challenge of low-pay and in-work poverty – as well as the impact of UK social security decisions – mean the country’s progress is in peril.”


    It is Scotland’s approach to housing and housing costs that limit the effects of poverty more than in England.


    How much better might we be out of this dreadful , destructive Union?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. They’ll not get Swinney’s shaved heid.. The failing politicians and Scribblers are further openning peoples eyes up to their lies. People who have been through the exam process (with a degree of success) understand that you can’t inflate the pass rate by 20% in one year.
    MacWhirter writes as if his paper is the Daily Retard.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Looks like Macwhirter has taken the Kings (Boris) shilling, and joined the rest of the Anglo-Brit Nat media
    gang in attacking Scotland and our right to self-determination.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It has been clear since a few days before the SQA issued the results for this year that the British Nationalist parties and supporters in the media as well as several groups on the allegedly pro-independence campaign to use this to make political points. And, we have been seeing this reach a torrent over the weekend.

    The alleged concern is the ‘class bias’ of the adjustments made to predicted grades and, most of those, particularly on the right, have little concern for the residents of areas of high SIMD ratings. These areas have such high ratings largely BECAUSE of the neoliberal policies adopted by Labour and the Tories since c1978, when Chancellor Healey was forced to return from the airport because the financial hyenas were threatening to destroy sterling.

    The circumstances of this year with regard to the SQA results are without precedent. Decisions had to be made ad hoc and SQA staff and teaching staff have, in the main done pretty well. The nub of the ‘problem’ is the fact that the predicted grades, particularly at to top grade level were significantly above what had been the trend of many decades. To have accepted these would have resulted in ‘grade inflation’ and the loss of confidence in the validity of awards and not just for this year’s cohort of young people, but, for those in future years and, indeed, in recent years.

    In the technical report the SQA discusses the various options which were considered and explains why all were rejected, except the method finally adopted. The adjustments made have produced results which, although higher than in previous years, are broadly in line with historic trends.

    Because young people were informed of the predicted grades, their expectations were raised and, when the adjusted grades were issued, a substantial number were disappointed. And, I think most of us have a great deal of sympathy for them.

    However, the SQA has always allowed an appeals system and this year will be no different. This will require schools to submit further evidence in support of their predictions. I hope this will go some way to explaining why the predicted grades were much higher than in previous years.

    To facilitate this, the SG has waived charges for appeals and are also engaging more staff to deal with these. In addition, Universities and Colleges as well as other training bodies have indicated that they will be flexible in their procedures to optimise fairness to young people.

    This is the key thing at this time, and, will, probably, take until the end of 2020 to clear.

    Perhaps the opposition politicians (left and right as well as British Nationalist) can explain how blaming someone and demanding ‘heads must roll’ will improve things for this cohort of young people.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Does this the whole thing bring into question whether there has been past bias in exam results? The Unionists do seem quite familiar with the idea that ‘class’, and demography may have had a bearing on exam results. What do we know of how assessments were determined in the past, under the union governments? It would be a mammoth task to analyse that whole area of education, in Scotland.
    Also what are the results re private schools ans which system are they using this year?


    1. In Scotland, the private schools, especially the larger ones in the cities, mainly use the SQA. Partly, this was down to the Scottish Examination Board (as it then was) being perceived as having more rigorous syllabuses and assessment systems. So, they will have been subject to the same moderation and grading as the other 95% of schools.

      Undoubtedly, social class played a part in the awards in decades past, probably up until the mid 1970s. And, this was one of the reasons that those parents who opted for private education did so. (They also wanted the ‘connections’ and the ‘old school tie’.)

      With the raising of the school leaving age c1971 and the advent of comprehensive schools (completed in Scotland over a very few years) More children were taking exams and the previous ‘clique’ of markers and assessors could not cope with the workload and so many more local authority schoolteachers had to be recruited and got to know the internal workings and began pressing for change. The most immediate and far ranging change was the replacement of Ordinary Grades with Standard Grades, which introduced Criterion Referenced Assessment and ‘certification for all’. Huge numbers of children from working class and lower socioeconomic groups demonstrated that they could perform as well and, indeed, better than children in private schools. More began to go into Further and Higher Education. In a longitudinal study, which I think still continues using the entire UK cohort of young people demonstrated that when matched for school attainment, young people from comprehensive schools obtain significantly better university degrees.

      Of class hung in there to defend the privileges of the private schools, and, since a far greater proportion of MPs were privately educated compared to the general population, they were able to change legislation, especially in England. The media, in its senior echelons, mainly privately educated, continually pushed the line of’ violence in class rooms’, ‘dumbing down’, ‘sink schools’, ‘failing schools’, ‘league tables’, etc. It was drip-drip-drip over several decades.

      There is, of course, a socioeconomic factor in attainment because the pupils in schools serving more affluent areas tend to attain more awards and also awards at higher levels.
      The reasons are essentially economic – better housing, more space in houses, more books, etc, more holidays, better health. By the age of 3 years, differences are beginning to appear. Schools can ameliorate this – and many do – only to a limited extent. The solution is in better quality, affordable housing, access to high quality health care, better wages and conditions, accessible green space close at hand, increased financial and other support for mothers, particularly from birth until around the age of 10. They are all well known and demonstrated to be effective.

      This is what ‘austerity’ is about – not about ‘balancing the country’s books’ as if a country were like a family or a business – but about transferring wealth and power from the majority of the population to the very few. However, the powerful know that they cannot do this on their own, so they revert to the well-tried, divide-and-rule strategy, where they favour sections of the middle class and present sections of the rest as ‘feckless scroungers’.( I say this as someone who has, by dint of income become middle class.)


  7. Labour want a vote of confidence in John Swinney, Nicola should make it a vote of confidence in the Scottish govt, then lets see if the opposition want an election, Slab,Slibs and Scons would be terrified of an election.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.